After widespread reports of a major message system exploit on PS4 surfaced on October 13, Sony has responded to assure players that it has been resolved.
The exploit would force PS4 users to either factory reset their console, losing all their data, or rebuild the console’s database, simply by sending a message with specific characters.
These malicious messages appeared to serve no purpose other than to force players to lose their data by forcing a factory reset, and simply receiving the notification for the message was enough to trigger the bug.
Players were advised to set their message privacy settings to ‘Friends Only’ or ‘No One’ to prevent random users sending them potential harmful and software corrupting codes.
The issue was not tied to any particular game, so it was clear that there was a vulnerability in the messaging system itself, which PlayStation says it has now addressed.
PlayStation UK’s support Twitter account responded to a user who reported the issue, saying that messages were not in fact ‘bricking’ consoles, but in fact could be saved by opening up in safe mode.
We've since fixed the issue, and it wasn't bricking consoles, just sending them into a crash loop that can be quickly fixed in under 5 minutes. Delete the message on the PS mobile app, go into Safe Mode, use Option 5, console back to normal. ^DB
— Ask PlayStation UK (@AskPS_UK) October 15, 2018
As for punishment of users sending the messages out, the PlayStation UK support Twitter account was unable to say whether they had been identified or banned.
As for those who factory reset their console, they will be wondering why PlayStation did not make clear that a safe mode restart would have prevented the issue.
Initially PlayStation didn’t acknowledge the issue at all, despite widespread coverage, only giving an update to say they were looking into it on October 15.