Imagine you’re using your iPhone and then suddenly a message appears telling you that your phone has been hijacked and to regain access you need to pay a fee via PayPal. What? Really? Yes, and it’s happening right now to Aussie iPhone users.
iOS devices like the iPad and iPhone have an outstanding feature available on them called “find my iPhone” – this service operates within the “iCloud” which is a service that backs up your devices, as well as offering a collaborative document sharing and editing service and importantly the ability to find your device.
If you’ve lost your phone, at the shops or at home – you simply log into iCloud.com and enter your Apple ID (Email address) and password.
Once you’re in the service is fantastic, the best device location and protection service I’ve ever used. You can see it on the map, and if it’s not on the map you can lock it so that someone who finds it can’t use it – and you can leave a message on the screen so they know how to contact you.
Even if it can be located, you can lock it with a new unique passcode. Again, leaving a message on the screen.
So how are scammers using it?
This is perfect. However, imagine someone has your Apple ID Email address and password. Yep, they can buy some songs on your account, even movies. But that’s not what they want – they want your money.
So they are visiting iCloud.com, logging in – either using your password obtained during other hacks online, or by guesswork – and they are pretending to be you by locking the device.
It really is that simple.
Here’s what that message will look like on an iPad
What should you do
If your device is locked, firstly you can immediately access iCloud.com yourself and click on your device, and click LOST and then STOP LOST MODE. You’re clear.
Now immediately change your iCloud account password. Hopefully you get there before the hackers do – but, it’s likely they’ll have beaten you to it.
To change your iCloud (Apple ID) password, simply visit appleid.apple.com and click Manage your Apple ID then follow the password options.
In that case, there are ways to bypass the passcode, but they will need you to wipe the device. So be prepared for that, and probably plenty of other pain.
Number one lesson for today – no matter if you’ve been hijacked – if you own an Apple device: go to appleid.apple.com and change your Apple ID immediately. Make it unique, not something you share with other services.
The Australian government’s Stay Smart Online initiative issued a clear warning on this today – seriously – don’t ignore this one ok.