PlayStation Responds to Console-Breaking Message Hack

PlayStation responded to news of a console-breaking hack that crashes PlayStation 4s by advising console owners on how to avoid the problematic message.

News began circulating on forums like Reddit where PlayStation 4 owners said that they were getting suspicious messages soon followed by issues with the consoles. Strings of seemingly random symbols coming into players’ inboxes led to reports of consoles being bricked, frozen, and rendered unusable until players resorted to factory resetting their devices.

According to the Ask PlayStation UK Twitter account though, a full factory reset isn’t necessary. Sharing a tweet that responded to a user questioning if Sony was aware of the issue, the support Twitter account responded to say that the issue is being investigated while providing a solution for the problem.

The instructions seen here and through the link above show how to start a PlayStation 4 in Safe Mode and which option to pick after doing so. Option 5 that’s referenced in PlayStation’s tweet is “Rebuild Database” and differs from resetting the PlayStation 4 to factory settings.

“Scans the drive and creates a new database of all content,” PlayStation’s support page says about the Safe Mode option. “This operation may take a long time depending on the type and number of data items.”

It’s an option that some players had already discovered to be a solution prior to PlayStation confirming it, but those who fall victim to this malicious hack now have a verified solution straight from Sony if they’re worried about tampering with their console. The instructions also advise deleting the message from the PlayStation app without opening it, another strategy that some players had already employed.

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However, there have been reports of players who said that they never even opened the message and still experienced problems with their consoles. One user said that they were busy with a game and saw the message pop up in their inbox only to still experience issues a while later. For that reason, the most common advice among concerned PlayStation 4 owners has been to set players’ messaging settings to “private” so that they can’t receive unsolicited messages.

Though PlayStation responded to the user and explained how the issue can be fixed and avoided, it didn’t give any indication of when the issue will be fully resolved so that it’s not possible to break consoles with a message.