Feeds

iDevice ransomware stalks OZ, demands payoff

Fanbois phones, fondleslabs locked, messaged that they've be 'hacked by Oleg Pliss'

Seven Steps to Software Security

Apple fans across Australia are finding their iPad and iPhones held for ransom by miscreants demanding $50 and more for unlock fee.

The extortionate demands appeared in messages claiming the device had been "hacked by Oleg Pliss" – but it'd be highly unlikely that the cybercrooks behind the scam, which appears to be localised to Australia and (perhaps) New Zealand, are using their real names.

Pad, iPhone, and Mac owners in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia, and Victoria have all reported falling victim to the apparently widespread scam, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The scam bears some resemblance to ransomware hustles that have been thrown against Windows users for years, and more recently have been slung against Android fans. However, security experts reckons that the crooks in this case have broken into Apple profiles associated with affected users rather than doing anything involving malicious code.

"The affected devices aren't infected with malware; instead, it looks as though the attackers have somehow got hold of the victims' iCloud login credentials and locked their devices remotely," said veteran security researcher Paul Ducklin in a post on Sophos's Naked Security blog.

Australian discussion boards are alive with (largely inconclusive) speculation in the wake of the incident. Neither fanbois nor security experts are sure how the wave of attacks might have occurred, even though there's no shortage of potential theories.

Michael Sutton, VP of security research at cloud security firm Zscaler, commented: “While it's not clear how the attacker gained account credentials for the iOS accounts, given the localised nature of the attacks it's likely that this is a case of password reuse as opposed to Apple servers being compromised. It is likely that a third party database was compromised and authentication credentials stolen that are the same credentials used by the owners of the affected iOS devices. Fortunately, this is a situation where Apple can intervene to reset the device and affected users should not pay the ransom being sought.”

Ducklin added: "It smells like stolen or guessed passwords shared with some other account."

If Ducklin is correct, then use of a different, non-trivial password for every site would protect against attack. Use of two factor-authentication, which is offered as an option by Apple, would likewise guard against fraud.

An FAQ on the incident by Mac security experts Intego can be found here. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Attackers raid SWISS BANKS with DNS and malware bombs
'Retefe' trojan uses clever spin on old attacks to grant total control of bank accounts
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.