Apple devices are being hacked across Australia; users receiving ransom demands

Apple users across Australia are getting hit with ransom demands after their Macs, iPhones and iPads are being locked up by hackers.

Australians have woken up today to some really bad news. Many people are reporting their Apple devices are being locked up and that hackers are sending ransom demands across the board. The most common ransom note says the device has been locked by “Oleg Pliss” and that the user needs to send between $50 to $100 AUD to a Paypal account to get back control of their device.

This is pretty much the same MO that ransomware has. Ransomware is a type of malicious program that infects computers and then locks them asking the user for money to regain control. There has recently been an increase in ransomware attacks across the world and this person or group in Australia seems to be mimicking that attack pattern.

However there’s one major difference in this case: this phones aren’t infected. The attack doesn’t come from a malicious program that the unsuspecting victim installed on their Apple device, but rather it comes from compromised Apple IDs.

An IT security expert posited that the hackers may simply be using passwords stolen in unrelated security breaches of other companies, and that they’re simply taking advantage of the users’ tendencies to reuse passwords for multiple services. If this is the case it means the attack is targeting folks that aren’t using two-step authentication on their Apple accounts, otherwise the passwords wouldn’t be of much use to the hackers.

It’s also important to note that devices secured with a passcode haven’t fallen victim to this attack. Affected users said that despite receiving the ransom message, they could still use their passcode and easily regain control of their devices.

So far there hasn’t been any official response from Apple, while Telstra and other mobile carriers are shrugging responsibility and telling users they should contact the Cupertino company if they want the issue fixed. A PayPal spokesperson said one of the attacker’s Paypal addresses didn’t even exist, and that users who sent money would be refunded by PayPal.

Once again this underlines how much our society is changing thanks to all of the brand new devices, and that online security is more important than ever.

Source: Brisbane Times | Image via Apple and Brisbane Times

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23 Comments

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Bet you that all these tech bloggers will just wipe this off as a blimp, nothing much to see here, move on.. unless it's Microsoft... boy CNN would cover this as breaking news for 2 days and five a history dating back to Windows 3.11

This is a "feature" not a hack, in fact it is "Magical". Apple never gets hacked! Worst and best part are their fans defending Apple no matter what, that gives Apple the easiest road which also makes them lasy and non innovative. I really love their tantrums!

If you'd actually read the article, you'd see this is due to user/security issues with other sites and not something Apple neglected on.

I think he is just pointing out the irony, like how it was MS's fault last month that IE was vulnerable due to an exploit in flash.

Corey C said,
I think he is just pointing out the irony, like how it was MS's fault last month that IE was vulnerable due to an exploit in flash.

It is MS's fault as they ship Flash.

Rosyna said,

It is MS's fault as they ship Flash.

And it still requires dumb users to be affected, very similar to this...

Gergel7077 said,
How did the person or group crate the pop-up message? I would think they would have hacked the OS as well.

Nope.

They're "hacking" them by using their Apple ID to gain access to Find My iPhone (see the icon in the dialog box). It's probably pretty common to protect your Apple ID with the same password as e.g your mail account so breaches in other systems can lead to this if passwords are reused...

I think the headline is wrong: ACCOUNTS (as in random ones on the web) not Apple devices are hacked, and then no more hacks are happening here unless the act of "logging in using stolen credentials" is a hack (which I guess it can often be in popular news but I prefer higher standards in tech news)

Edited by Northgrove, May 28 2014, 11:36am :

If this happened in california, I don't think people would be that excited. Wouldn't their phones be irrecoverably bricked?

No security system is effective once it reaches the end user.

We really need more effective solutions than single-auth passwords.

I bet it is related to a successful hack/fishing attack that was specific to a business or service in Australia, and not because of Australia itself.

Raa said,
Someone mentioned it was related to the Apple ID hack from last year... Old passwords re-used maybe?

I think that's it. Apple ID's have the mail address be the account "name" (as is popular these days) and I can only guess how many have the corresponding password be the same as that of the mail account. :p