A little knowledge goes a long way for Twitter users. Users of the micro-blogging site have been trolling each other with a link to a site that overwhelms Safari and causes iPhones and iPads to reboot. It doesn’t actually do any damage and is more of a really annoying prank.
The link points browsers to an aptly named site called crashsafari.com, which does what it says on the tin. It was developed by Matthew Bryant, a 22-year-old security professional, purely as a joke. Bryant had stumbled on the bug while testing how browsers handle random pieces of code thrown at them. The bug itself is similar to another problem that was discovered on Google Chrome which was discovered two years ago. Interestingly, that also resulted in a site named crashchrome.com.
— reteP (@SamusAranX) January 25, 2016
There is some disagreement about how the website cripples Safari. Wired believes that crashsafari overloads the address bar by throwing an infinite series of numbers at it. On the other hand, some users think that the site attempts to create thousands of entries in the browser’s history. This second method is a reflection of the Chrome bug from 2014.
How it works doesn’t matter quite as much as what Twitter users began doing with their new information. Users began hiding the website behind a URL shortener and began sharing the link. Naturally, they put some effort into disguising their treachery by creating some of the most click-baiting Tweets on the planet.
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
Anyone who has encountered this prank shouldn’t be too worried. It doesn’t do any lasting damage, although there may be a problem if Safari keeps trying to return to the last page it visited. The solution is easy enough by putting the iPhone into airplane mode and redirecting the browser elsewhere. That being said, the embarrassment of falling for such a simple prank may be a little harder to remedy.