Everyone is mad at Twitter. No, not because the company’s stock is tanking after four senior executives walked out the door this weekend. It’s because of a new prank called CrashSafari that crashes iPhones and other devices as soon as a user clicks a link.
Hundreds of Twitter users are intentionally tricking others into clicking a link that forces iPhones and iPads to reboot, and it looks like Android devices might also be affected. Many disguised the CrashSafari.com link with URL shorteners and teased it as a leaked Kanye West album, or something else that deserves more attention.
Right now, lots of jokers are posting shortlinks to 'crashsafari ․ com'. The link will reboot your iPhone. Watch out. pic.twitter.com/3mZby5Xpo2
— Mikko Hypponen (@mikko) January 25, 2016
— Sean Sullivan (@5ean5ullivan) January 25, 2016
The link overloads a user’s default mobile browser with a self-generating string of text that fills the browser’s address bar. An estimated 20 seconds or so later, iPhones and iPads force themselves to reboot after being unable to accommodate the request. The same thing happens on Android and PC devices, with one researcher from the cybersecurity company F-Secure showing that more than 100,000 people have been victimized.
Wow. One “Crash Safari” short-link has been clicked on more than one hundred thousand times… pic.twitter.com/JqotjPiN1j
— News from the Lab (@FSLabs) January 25, 2016
Matthew Bryant, a 22-year-old cybsecurity professional, told Wired Monday he created CrashSafari “purely as a joke” and that the prank doesn’t do any serious damage, other than causing a phone to reboot.
“In my spare time I often test how browsers will handle odd code that gets thrown at them,” he said.