If you’ve seen references to a site called crashsafari.com floating around the web, please do us all a favor and not click it or share it, and for the love of Cthulhu please do not use it for a practical joke.
Independent, 9to5Mac, Telegraph, and a whole host of other sites are reporting that the latest gag to make its way around the internet is a site that exploits the history feature in HTML5 to crash web browsers. It works by consuming more and more RAM until the browser either stops responding, or crashes.
9to5Mac explains in more detail”
The History API is what allows modern websites to change the URL of the page without causing a refresh: scroll 9to5Mac’s homepage and you’ll see the text in the URL bar change. The person behind this site has found that you can cause a crash by abusing the API and calling it thousands of times in quick succession.
You can activate it by browsing to the URL directly as well as clicking on links in apps, like tapping on a link shared over Facebook and Twitter. Depending on how the website is opened, it will either crash the current app, the Safari browser, or the whole of system.
When I tried this on my iPad, the impact was minimal (Safari simply closed), but there are also reports that this gag can crash iPhones. You can see it in action here:
— Sean Sullivan (@5ean5ullivan) January 25, 2016
I have also tried this on Chrome on Windows, and I can tell you that this site consumed around 3GB of RAM before Chrome became unresponsive. There’s another report that it’s also causing Android phones to heat up and slow down, but I can’t confirm that (I’m not stupid enough to try the site _again_).
If you’re thinking of playing this joke, don’t. There are funny practical jokes, but this is not one of them.
image by WillzUK