iPhone and Mac users should watch what they click on even more carefully than usual as there’s a URL going around that causes Safari to crash and their device to reboot. Apparently the website is a prank, and the URL is quite obvious—unless, of course someone disguises it with a URL shortener. It’s crashsafari.co, and while iPhone and Mac users are specifically being targeted, apparently it affects PCs and Android devices as well.
iPhone users targeted by prank
Samuel Gibbs of The Guardian reports that the URL overloads the default browser—which is Safari on Apple devices—with a “self-generating text string which populates the address bar.” It takes approximately 20 seconds for the affected iPhone to reboot and heats the device up a lot as it attempts to handle all of the site’s code.
Apparently something similar happens on iPads, although Android devices running Google’s Chrome browser also heat up and start running slowly. To clear the problem on an iPhone, simply reboot it, while Android users simply have to quit Chrome to clear it.
Computers are also impacted, although not as badly as mobile devices. The extent of the problem on PCs and Macs depends entirely on the amount of processing power they have. On a Mac, the URL simply crashes Safari, while Chrome running on both PCs and Macs start running slowly.
How crashsafari.com works
Gibbs suggests that the prank website’s code generates a longer and longer line of characters, making it difficult for the browser to load the page, thus causing a memory problem which results in the device rebooting. It appears to be similar with the effective power text bug, and users are apparently pranking people by sending the link by disguising it with a URL shortener and adding text that will get iPhone users to click on it to crash their phones.
For now, just avoid clicking on shortened or hidden links. According to Gibbs, one of those shortened URLs has already received more than 100,000 clicks from unsuspecting users. But at least clicking on these links doesn’t cause a serious problem as rebooting typically fixes the issue. iMore reports that Apple knows about this problem and is working to fix it.