Several Australian iOS users have been reporting that they have been locked out of their own devices. They received messages that demanded money from them for their gadgets to be unlocked.
Complaints started popping up on the Apple forums when a Melbourne based user reported having his device locked up while he was using it. The user reportedly went to check his phone and there was a message on the screen that said the device had been hacked by a certain ?Oleg Pliss? and that he/she/they demanded $100 USD/EUR to have it unlocked again.
In the tech community, Oleg Pliss is actually an engineer at Oracle but it?s probably just a random name that the hackers used and it is not likely that the actual Oleg Pliss is responsible for the attack.
Most of the complaints are coming from Australia, but there have also been complaints from other regions like the US and the UK.
The affected users have tried calling their mobile carriers to no avail. The carriers weren?t able to solve the issue and they urged their callers to contact Apple instead.
Apple hasn?t addressed the issue yet. When a user on the forums went to a Sydney Apple Store, the employees hadn?t heard of the hack. The employee went to the back and returned saying that one of his fellow Apple Store employees had been hit by the hack as well. The forum user said that he was first asked for a proof of purchase which he didn?t have on him at that time. After some debating, the Apple employee agreed to fix the device, but their fix was to detach the device from iCloud and iTunes and got him to change his Apple password. They also asked him to change any emails associated with Apple before doing the restore. This means that the device is back to factory settings and the user has now lost over 3 months of stuff. After doing the restore, the device worked.
The Apple Store guys also suggested that the user disable ?Find My iPhone? on all devices until they know more about what has happened. Find My iPhone lets users locate lost or stolen iOS devices and can remotely wipe the device clean if the user suspects that the device is in the hands of a scammer. It seems like the reverse is happening this time as ?Oleg Pliss? is the one who may do the remote wiping.
A lot of speculation has been going around about how the hacks are happening but the easiest explanation would be that the hacker has access to the user?s iCloud account details although it is not yet known how that could happen.
Once we know the cause, we?ll write a follow up article about it.
Photo Source: Apple website