Phone hackers in Australia are proving that ransom notes aren’t a thing of the past, but they’ve modernized them a bit. According to CNET on Monday, hackers are using the Apple function ‘Find my iPhone’ to lock users out of their phones and other Apple devices and are then demanding up to 100 U.S. dollars to be paid to an anonymous PayPal account.
Apple’s support forums are full of complaints (now 19 pages long for this issue) from people whose devices have been hacked by “Oleg Pliss.” Because multiple devices are locked out all at once, 9to5Mac believes that the hacker (or hackers) has access to his/her/their victims’ information via iCloud.
However, for users who have already set a passcode on your device, you’re safe. A passcode can only be set remotely if there was no code in place to begin with.
According to a post on the forum, Applecare’s advice has been to restore factory settings on the phone via iTunes while connected to a computer. So ultimately, the hacker’s threat is “pay us money to keep all of your contacts and info as they are or lose everything”.
It is curious that the hacker is only asking for such a small fee. There are plenty of people who would be completely lost without access to their devices and would likely be willing to pay a pretty large sum to get it back quickly.
By requesting such a relatively reasonable amount, it is likely that the hacker will make a decent amount of money off these people who just want access back. However, this kinda gives the hacker the go-ahead to keep all their information and just lock their phone out whenever they need to make a quick buck, assuming they can access the iCloud information again.
CNET notes that users in London and New Zealand have also reported being hacked, so just to be safe, now’s the time to put a passcode on all your devices, and change your Apple ID password and all related security questions.