iPhone, iPad and Mac users across the country have had their devices hacked by an entity calling itself ‘Oleg Pliss’. The hacker took over the devices and locked them, leaving a ransom note on the screen directing the owner of the device to deposit between $50 and $100 into a Paypal account, in exchange for having their phones unlocked. The incident appears to be isolated to Australia at this point.
Those who already had a password set on the device were mostly able to unlock their phones, but those without a password were stuck fixing the problem the hard way – by restoring their phones to factory settings and hoping they had backed up recently on iTunes.
Online payment service Paypal has said that under no circumstances should you pay the ransom fee, and has confirmed that it will be able to refund those who have paid money to the account.
There is speculation that the hackers were able to gain access to the devices by using email and password combinations obtained during the recent eBay and Yahoo hacks.
So how can you prevent your device from being hacked? First, enable the passcode on your smartphone or tablet. Start using two-step verification on your accounts, and set a different password for each of your important or sensitive accounts online, such as your email, Paypal, ebay and Apple ID.
If you have been affected by the ‘Oleg Pliss’ hack, do not pay the ransom to unlock your device. Instead, start by calling Apple and follow their instructions to unlock your device.