27 May 2014

Are British iPhones & iPads safe from hackers?

iPhones and iPads from Australia have been frozen by a computer hacker who is demanding a cash ransom to unlock them. Sati Bain from online security firm Sestus explains.

Speculation is rife about how Apple phones, tablets and laptops are being hijacked to deliver ransom demands on their owners, writes Technology Producer Geoff White.

It seems odd that the victims’ devices are mainly from Australia: if hackers had discovered how break into Apple devices (for example, via a malicious app) we’d be seeing cases popping up all over the world.

The fact that we’re not (coupled with the fact that the extortion demands seem to come from the Find My iPhone tool, which is part of Apple users’ online iCloud account), implies the hacker has somehow managed to hack into Australian users’ Apple accounts, rather than the devices themselves.

That in turn implies a number of explanations: perhaps the blackmailer has hacked a server full of Apple users’ IDs and passwords local to Australia. Perhaps s/he stumbled on a stash of IDs and passwords for a different service, but people used the same credentials for their Apple accounts (a good reason to have a different password for each service!).

Whatever the explanation, changing your Apple password is a good idea. There’s advice on strong passwords at the bottom of this page: