The Malicious Playstation Message Attack that Caused Boot Loops

Are you an avid PS4 gamer? If so, you might be interested in a recent exploit that occurred recently. This attack essentially meant anyone that set their privacy status to allow all messages could fall victim to a message-based attack. Once the user receives and opens the message, the console would lock up and enter a boot loop. Many users would then resort to restoring their consoles to factory defaults in a bid to restore it to its former glory.

How It Worked

What makes this attack so scary is how easy it is to perform. People started receiving messages that simply said “Juegas ❤️” along with an unsupported character. The errant character caused a parsing problem and threw the PlayStation 4 into a crash loop. The affected user could no longer use their PlayStation 4 unless they dove into the advanced system settings and refreshed the console.


The ease of the attack meant that gamers could effectively wipe out their opposition without even firing a shot. Reddit user Huntstark made a post noting how a few incredulous gamers were sending the malicious message to the members of the opposing team in Rainbow Six: Siege. Once the message had been delivered and opened, the victims would drop out of the game. This allowed the attackers to win the match and move up in the game’s ranking system.

How to Fix It

If you’re concerned about this message bug, never fear! The best way to fight it is to update your PS4 to the latest patch. Sony has since put out an update that fixes this problem, so you don’t need to hide your messages from everyone else. Once the patch has been downloaded and installed, you can continue playing online without any issues.

If your console has been hit by this malicious attack, there is a way to fix it without performing a factory reset. First, turn off the console, then hold the power button down until it beeps twice. This will boot the PS4 in safe mode. Unfortunately, it can only be navigated if you connect the controller via USB cable, so plug in your controller.


Once all this is done, go down to the option that reads “rebuild database” and select it. This will then fix the problems that the attack has caused. The amount of wait time varies from user to user – with some reporting it takes a while, while others claim it goes by quickly. Once done, you should be able to reboot without issues.

Are PlayStation 4 Viruses Possible?


With this recent attack causing quite a scare in the PS4 community, it asks the question: while this particular attack was simply a parsing issue in a message, could this demonstrate that PlayStations can get viruses?

The answer to this question is, essentially, yes and no. Yes, PlayStation 4s could theoretically have a virus developed for it. However, virus developers need two things to incentivise them to develop a virus: a wide audience and a benefit for the developer. PS4s are bountiful but not nearly as much as PCs. They also don’t have much of a gain for the developer, unlike infecting PCs with ransomware. As a result, it’s unfeasible for a malware developer to spend resources on PS4s when there are far bigger fish to fry!

For the Players

With the PlayStation 4 under attack by a malicious message, some users have had their PS4s put into a boot cycle. Now you know how the attack worked and how to fix the problem if you were hit.

For PS4 gamers, were you hit by this attack? Tell us your stories below!

Simon Batt
Simon Batt

Simon Batt is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for cybersecurity.

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