Sending link to website lets you crash Safari and anyone's iPhone

Prank website forces iPhones to reboot and will cause computers and Android devices to hang

Following the fun users had with the “effective power” iPhone text message bug, people have been sending a link to users of Apple’s Safari browser that will crash their iPhones or Macs.

The link, which is simply, overloads the default browser with a self-generating text string which populates the address bar. After about 20 seconds or so it will force an iPhone to reboot, while significantly heating up as the smartphone tries to handle the code of the site.

A similar thing happens on iPads, which also has Safari, while even Android devices running Chrome heat up and become sluggish. Rebooting the iPhone or quitting Chrome on an Android device clears the problem.

crashsafari working on Android and PC

— Fake Jailbreak (@hatefakejb) January 25, 2016

Desktop and laptop computers are also affected to a lesser degree depending on how much processing power they contain. The site will cause Safari on a Mac to crash. Chrome on a Mac and PC also becomes bogged down.

The code of the website appears to generate an ever-increasing load, which becomes harder and harder for the browser to handle, likely resulting in a memory issue and forcing the reboot of the device.

Crash Safari website code
Crash Safari website code – as viewed using a Chrome browser! Photograph: Screengrab

As with the effective power text message bug, users have started sending the link disguised by URL shorteners with tempting text to get iPhone users to click on the link and crash their smartphones.

Ok who tweeted that "crash safari" link ? 😂

— charles (@Est1991__) January 25, 2016

Beware kids if u click a link and it pops up crash safari u gon be pissed af for the next 20 seconds

— Part Time Savage (@brokeboy206) January 25, 2016

If everyone could stop sending me the safari crash link that'd be fantastic

— Kaden Isaiah (@mccoy_kaden) January 25, 2016

For the immediate future, iPhone users should be very careful about which shortened or obfuscated links they click on, should they be forced into rebooting their smartphone. One of the shortened links has already been clicked over 100,000 times.

Wow. One “Crash Safari” short-link has been clicked on more than one hundred thousand times…

— News from the Lab (@FSLabs) January 25, 2016

Should the worst happen, it appears that smartphones will behave normally after a reboot.

  • This article was amended on 1 February 2016. An earlier version said the code of the website appeared to generate an ever-increasing string of characters.


Samuel Gibbs

The GuardianTramp

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