Over the weekend, multiple users on Reddit and ResetEra started reporting a strange issue that involved receiving a message over PlayStation Network from a random account, the mere notification of which would freeze and “soft lock” their console until they performed a factory reset.
This issue was first reported by Redditor Pindabaas sometime last week but the community didn’t take him seriously at the time. According to the user, he received a message with “two symbols” that froze his console, and gave him a CE-36329-3 error every time he tried logged into his account. However, he could log into other accounts as normal.
Yesterday, at least three users reported the same problem on Reddit alone, with one presenting a screenshot of what the message looks like, prompting various publications to pick up on the reports and contact Sony (the company has yet to respond).
Over on ResetEra, many users have pointed out that this “glitch” is something iPhone users have experienced in the past. It seems to be a text-based exploit that Redditor BorgDrone does a good job of explaining in layman terms:
There are all kinds of interesting ways you can f*** up text processing, especially if you’re coding in C, C++ or another unsafe language.
For example, say messages have a maximum size of 140 characters (I don’t know if they do, I don’t use this feature, but let’s assume they do for the sake of the example) and you naively reserve a fixed size 140 byte buffer for them. As long as people are just sending plain English messages, no problem. But when people can enter other characters, like emoji, that are encoded using multiple bytes you suddenly get a message that’s too large for the buffer, even if it’s only 140 characters, that doesn’t necessarily mean only 140 bytes. It does for simple text so you don’t notice during testing, until someone posts a bunch of unicode text and boom.
Regardless of who’s being targeted, we advise our readers to adjust their message privacy settings until further notice. In case you do end up receiving such a message, then the simplest workaround is to download the PlayStation Messages app on your phone, and use it to delete the message before rebooting your console and attempting to log in. If the app isn’t available in your region, you can delete the message via the toolbar available at PlayStation.com.
We’ll update our readers when we have more information.