Hey, PlayStation 4 people. Lock down messaging on your account, pronto.
A new kind of malicious message is reportedly floating around on the PlayStation Network that makes the whole console crash. Recovery is possible, but it’s not as simple as power cycling the machine. There are steps that need to be taken.
Word of the problematic appears to have surfaced first on Reddit. In a post titled “WARNING: Set your messages to private,” user Huntstark1 describes a scenario where almost their whole team got booted out of a Rainbow Six: Siege match after they all received a message containing an unrecognized character.
Only one team member wasn’t affected, apparently because he keeps his PSN messaging set to private.
I haven’t been able to personally confirm the existence of the issue, but it’s worth noting that this isn’t a lone report. Others have reported similar problems after receiving a message with unrecognized characters. It seems like some bad actors on PSN are using these messages to knock people offline in competitive games, given their own team an advantage.
Before we go any further: To set you PlayStation account to private, fire up your console and head to the Settings menu. Then select Account Management, followed by Privacy Settings, and finally, Personal Info | Messaging. On that last page, change “Messages” to either “Friends only” or “No one.”
Taking those steps will prevent anyone from sending you the problematic message. That won’t fix your console if you’ve already been hit by the messaging bug, however.
Sony hasn’t offered any guidance or responded to Mashable’s request for comment, but a couple of crowdsourced fixes have surfaced. One suggestion is to download the PS Messages app onto your smart device of choice and delete the offending message from there.
In those cases, you might also have to rebuild your PS4’s database. It’s a simple, easy process that involves booting the console in Safe Mode and selecting the right option from a menu. Here’s how to do it, straight from Sony.
Another suggestion involves running a factory reset on your console, though you may want to look at that as a last resort. Where the PS Messages app/database rebuild option preserves all the data on your console’s hard drive, a factory reset wipes everything.
It might not be Sony-confirmed, but the issue seems to be widespread enough — and easy enough to circumvent — that you should probably take action now rather than waiting for Sony to address the issue. This is especially true if you play online games and are often exposed to random fellow players.