Be careful where you tap today as you browse thru social media, or you may suffer a fate worse than rickrolling.
Mischievous Twitter users are passing around a link, often disguised with URL shorteners, to “crashsafari.com,” a website created in 2015 that immediately crashes iPhones and iPads. Feel free to try it here if you’re so inclined. See? There went a few seconds of your life, forever lost.
Crashsafari was created by Matthew Bryant, a 22-year-old working in application security in San Francisco. “In my spare time I often test how browsers will handle odd code that gets thrown at them,” says Bryant. He stumbled on the bug independently, he says, and made the browser- and phone-crashing sites “purely as a joke.”1
Twitter users, of course, immediately began trolling their friends and strangers with the trick.
For people who use Safari on iPhone and iPad, the site causes an immediate partial reboot of the phone. On the desktop, Safari instead seems to merely hang, leaving you watching a pinwheel for a while. Chrome for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android all crash, though they don’t take the operating system down with them. Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the bug or if it plans a fix for it.
How Serious is This?
Aside from inducing panic in paranoiac iOS users, no harm done. Hypponen says victims should rest assured that the bug is only a trivial “denial of service” attack, not a crash that can be used to run commands on their machines. Hypponen notes that some people may experience their phone crashing repeatedly as Safari reloads and then tries to visit the same URL again; he suggests they put the phone in airplane mode to stop the cycle. But overall, “it’s not the end of the world,” he says. Still, you may want to steer clear of that shortened link from your punk coworker, just for dignity’s sake.