Hackers behind iPhone ransom attacks arrested in Russia

A man and a teenaged boy are accused of using phishing and social engineering attacks to hijack Apple IDs and lock iOS devices

Russian authorities arrested a man and a teenaged boy from Moscow under suspicion that they compromised Apple ID accounts and used Apple's Find My iPhone service to hold iOS devices for ransom.

Find My Phone is an Apple iCloud feature that allows iPhone, iPad and Mac owners to remotely lock and track their devices if they're lost or stolen. A custom message can be displayed on the lockscreen when the feature is activated. In late May, many users from Australia and other countries reported that their iPhones were locked with a message claiming the device was hacked by a person or group named Oleg Pliss who demanded US$100 or euros to unlock it.

Apple said at the time that the incidents were not the result of iCloud being compromised and hinted that password reuse across multiple online accounts might be the cause of the hijackings.

It's not clear if the two Moscow residents, aged 16 and 23, were behind the Oleg Pliss attacks, but a press release Monday from the Russian Ministry of Interior that announced the arrests described a similar modus operandi.

The two allegedly compromised email accounts and used phishing pages and social engineering techniques to gain access to Apple ID accounts. They are then accused of using the Find My Phone feature to lock the associated devices and send messages to the owners threatening to delete data unless the ransom was paid.

Another technique involved placing advertisements online that offered to rent an Apple ID account with access to a lot of media content. Once users accepted the offer and linked their devices with that account, the attackers then used the Find My Phone feature to hijack them, Russian authorities said.

The Russian Ministry of Interior said it started receiving reports about such attacks in the spring. Regaining control of locked devices proved difficult for victims because they had to present Apple with an identity document and a receipt from the store where they purchased their device, the ministry said.

The apartments of the two suspects were searched and authorities seized computer equipment, SIM cards and phones that were supposedly used for illegal activities.

The two face charges of unauthorized access to computer information under the Russian Criminal Code.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securityfraudmobile securityAppledata protectiondata breachscamsAccess control and authenticationIdentity fraud / theft

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?