You can crash the latest version of Google Chrome with a simple tiny URL. Just rolling your mouse over it in a page, launching it from another app such as an email client, or pasting it into the address bar, will kill either that tab or the whole browser.
It's perfect for pranking friends by sending it to them in emails and messages. The security flaw was spotted just before the weekend by a chap called Andris Atteka, who blogged about the programming blunder here, and filed a bug report here.
Below is a screenshot of two forms of the offending URL – we won't put them this article as-is, because they will crash your tab if you accidentally wander your pointer over them in Chrome. And that's not nice. We've tested it on Chrome 45.0.2454.93 on OS X El Capitan and Windows 10, and both flavors of the browser are vulnerable. Chromebooks and Linux flavors of the browser are also crashed by the URL, plus Opera 32.0 which is based on Chromium 45, we're told. Android's Chrome is not affected, it seems.
"Unfortunately no reward was awarded as this was deemed to be only a denial-of-service vulnerability," wrote Atteka. "Anyway, making secure software is much harder than finding issues in it. Thanks Google."
What's cool about this bug is that it triggers a fatal exception (a SIGTRAP) rather than the usual memory access violation error caused by an overrun buffer, heap corruption, or similar – even in released code. This means some part of the executable was reached that the programmers never expected normal users to hit. As it turns out, the code at fault is some really old stuff.
This is the crash information from OS X:
What happens is this:
There's more discussion on how the developers plan to solve this problem in the Chromium bug tracker. It's sorta like the gaffe that plagued Skype in June. "There are going to be crashes all over as a result of this. This is a mess," sighed one Chromium project contributor a couple of hours ago. The team are working on a fix, so stay tuned.