PlayStations around the world are crashing and shutting themselves off after receiving just one dangerous message.

The strange attack – which mirrors similar bugs in iPhones and other tech – means that any console that tries to open the message will instead crash itself. After that, it will shut down and might not even be able to turn back on properly, according to reports.

Like those other bugs, it appears that the message contains characters that the PlayStation is unable to read and which force it to break itself when it tries.

Thankfully, there are ways of protecting against the issue. And it's likely that Sony will push out an update to fix it soon.

To guard against the attack, players can switch messages to private. That will only allow friends to get things into your inbox, meaning that the reach of the message will be limited.

That is done by heading to the Settings option on the PlayStation, choosing Account Management and then pressing Privacy Settings. In there, click on Messages and you can choose either to allow friends to message you or to turn messages off entirely.

If that isn't possible, then the messages can be opened in the PS app for iPhone or Android. Reading the message within that app won't crash the device, and it can be deleted safely with no damage to the PlayStation.

The problem message also seems to cause problems for the PlayStation after it has been turned off and back on again by the bug. Thankfully there is a way to sort that out, too.

A PlayStation can be booted into "safe mode" – done by turning off the PlayStation and then, when pressing the button to turn it back on, holding that down until it beeps for a second time, seven seconds later. That tool allows the PlayStation to rebuild its database of everything in the system, and should stop any issues that result from the strange message.

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