Scam victims in Australia and Britain are reporting their iPhones and iPads are suddenly locking up and displaying a message from a hacker calling himself “Oleg Pliss,” according to The Telegraph. The message demands a ransom of $50-$100 Australian dollars, sent by PayPal to the hacker’s Hotmail account, to unlock the devices.
Australian authorities suspect that the hacker was able to exploit the “Find My iPhone” feature, which can remotely lock a lost iPhone so that would-be thieves can’t access personal data. They suggest the hacker has gained access to certain Apple IDs used to purchase apps and sign in to iTunes.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that scammers have compromised Apple’s login database. Many people use the same password for multiple online accounts, so the hacker could have gotten the passwords from an unrelated security breach, or through phishing emails targeting Apple IDs.
Although the only reported incidents have been in Australia and the United Kingdom, BBB is recommending that Apple users in North America take precautions. Stay Smart Online, a website of the Australian government, offers the following advice:
- Change your Apple ID password.
- Don’t use the same password for every account.
- If you get an email purportedly from Apple asking for your user name and password, don’t respond. It’s probably a scam; online service providers will never ask you to send them your login information.
If you get hacked, don’t pay the ransom! You have other options:
- Call AppleCare Support if you’re still eligible. If not, report it to Apple anyway.
- Try to change your password. Using your security questions, you may still have access to your account even if the hacker has changed your old password. Once you have changed your password, go to Find My iPhone and turn off “lost” mode.
- Plug your device into your computer and do a factory reset through iTunes. Then restore your settings from iTunes, not from the cloud.
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