Apple has told users concerned by reports its Find my iPhone tool can be used to hijack and ransom devices to change their Apple ID password and ideally use one not associated with any other online account.
Apple device owners in Australia reported on an Apple message board that iPads and iPhones were being locked and a ransom message displayed after crooks took control of the devices.
"I was using my iPad a short while ago when suddenly it locked itself,” one wrote.
“I went to check my phone and there was a message on the screen (it's still there) saying that my device(s) had been hacked by 'Oleg Pliss' and he/she/they demanded $100 USD/EUR (sent by paypal) to return them to me.”
Another user reported: “I have logged into iCloud and changed my password, I can see the hack message inside 'Find my Phone' in iCloud. I can see though that if I turn off Lost Mode the passcode the hacker set will still remain.
“Has anyone called the police? It is a fraud attempt after all.”
In response to these concerns Apple said that while the incident was not related to any hack on its systems, users should take the necessary precautions to ensure they are not caught out in this scam.
“Apple takes security very seriously and iCloud was not compromised during this incident," it said.
"Impacted users should change their Apple ID password as soon as possible and avoid using the same user name and password for multiple services. Any users who need additional help can contact AppleCare or visit their local Apple Retail Store."
This suggestion from Apple adds weight to the notion those behind the hijacks managed to gather Apple ID user names and passwords from another source, allowing them to login to iCloud where the Find my iPhone feature can be accessed.
It could well be the case that the data used was some of that taken from the eBay hack that dominated the headlines last week, although with so many attacks breaching company databases, there could well be other sources.
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