You’ve probably heard all kinds of stories of tourists being kidnapped and held for ransom while on vacation in unfamiliar countries. But, have you heard any stories about technology being stolen and held for ransom? In Australia, hackers have found a way to gain access to iOS devices, lock them, and demand a ransom in return for release of control.
That’s right, according to The Age, hackers have been making the rounds in Queensland, SWN, Western and Southern Australia, and Victoria. Owners of iPhones, iPads, and Macs have reported having their device held hostage.
One victim in Sydney reported that she woke at 4:00 a.m. to the sound of an alarm with a pop up message on her iPhone that read, “Device hacked by Ogel Pliss. For unlock device OK.” After tapping the “OK” button, she was instructed to send $50 to a PayPal account before the device could be unlocked.
Other iOS device owners reported similar situations. The victims would receive a message claiming the phone had been hacked and the only way to unlock it would be to send money to a PayPal account. According to The Age, a PayPal spokesperson said there was no account linked to the email address being used by the hacker, but anyone who may have sent money under duress will be refunded the full amount.
Users posted updates on Twitter regarding attempts to remedy the problem through their Internet provider. Australia’s mobile data companies include Telstra, Vodafone, and Optus. None of the providers were able to explain how the hack happened or what to do to fix it. Customers are being redirected to Apple directly.
If your iOS device has been hacked, you should contact Apple for further instructions on how to regain control of your device. It is recommended that users activate two-step verification through iCloud to further secure their device. Two-step verification requires users to have a separate device that you control, which will receive a four-digit verification code through SMS or Find my iPhone. Once set up, anytime you log into My Apple ID to manage your account or purchase something from a new device, you will be required to enter that four-digit code before you can proceed.
Two-step verification also includes a 14-digit Recovery Key that you can use to regain access to your account if for any reason you lose it, like if your iPad is hacked and ransomed off.