PS4 owners: set your messages to private to avoid malicious system crash

In the past couple of years, we've seen a number of instances where mobile platforms, both iOS and Android, are hit with bugs where receiving a text message containing unique code or a specific character causes the app or even the whole device to crash. Now it's the PlayStation 4's turn. A growing number of owner are reporting this same problem, where a message is received and it forces the console to crash, in some cases even requiring a factory reset to fix.

Just like previous examples of this bug, the problematic messages just need to contain certain characters to cause trouble. PS4 owners have gathered on Reddit to document the issue, noting that the console can crash just from receiving the message, even if it's not opened. As a result, this is being used as an exploit in multiplayer games, where players use a dummy account to send the message to opponents, in turn crashing their console and getting them kicked from the match.

Sony has yet to comment on the bug, but it's likely a system software update will soon be on the way to address the issue. Fortunately there are a few things PS4 owners can do prevent being hit with the message, plus how they can get the console back to working order if they do receive it:

1. The easiest way to avoid this problem is to set messages to private, so messages from unknown users won't be received at all.

- On the PS4, just navigate to Settings > Account Management > Privacy Settings > Personal Info/Messaging, and set Messages to either "friends only" or "no one."

- This change can also be made on the web from Sony's website, just login using a PSN account.

2. Most users who've received the message say deleting it after it's already been received on the console doesn't help, but it can be deleted via the PS Messages mobile app before the PS4 has been turned on and connected to the internet. The app is free on both iOS and Android, and it's an easy way to both delete messages and block users.

3. In the event the PS4 does crash because of the bug, the best thing to do is delete the message — the above method is probably best — then reboot the console in safe mode and choose to "Rebuild Database." Sony's instructions make this easy to do, and this doesn't affect saved games/data, so there's no risk of anything being deleted.