A stream of PS4 gamers on Reddit have reported an interesting glitch in the console’s online messaging system, which seems to allow malicious users to remotely crash your console. In some extreme cases, the crash actually leads to enough damage that users need to factory-reset their PS4.
The bug was apparently discovered by gamers who have then leveraged it to crash the console of opposing players in online games, and gain unfair advantage. Huntstark, who first reported the problem on Reddit, states: “the two players who used this exploit initially are now almost diamonds on Rainbow Six from using this exploit”.
The message being sent seems to be an innocent-looking message with an emoji, although variations might exist. Players of games such as Rainbow Six : Siege, Rocket League, FIFA 19, or Destiny 2 have complained about the issue so far, although it seems any PS4 user could actually be impacted.
(Image from logic-sunrise)
People have reported that the best way to deal with these messages if they come your way is to open them on the Android or iOS app and delete them from there, not from the console. Additionally, it is advised to disable messages from anybody else than your friends, which on the PS4 you can do from Settings > Account Management > Privacy Settings.
There’s no doubt that Sony will issue a patch shortly to address the situation, even though they haven’t made any public announcement about the problem. Whether that patch will directly be server-side on the messaging service, or require a firmware update, is anyone’s guess.
It would be interesting to see if this glitch could be leveraged into a valid usermode entry point for a hack, and what kind of parsing mistake can lead to such a crash on the PS4. But here again, anything using the messaging system probably needs to go through Sony’s servers anyway, so it sounds like anything remotely exploitable would also easily be patched on their end.