Are Apple devices at risk for being attacked right now? A story in The Sydney Morning Herald on Monday suggests they may be. According to the news outlet, “dozens” of Australians have already taken to Twitter and Apple’s support forums to complain about an issue that leaves them unable to use their Apple devices. So what’s going on?
Apparently iOS and OS X users are waking up to a message on their phones that says they’ve been locked out, with a brief messaging asking for money, about $50 from PayPal, for the account to be re-opened. It’s still foggy how users are being locked out, but sources speaking with The Sydney Morning Herald suspect it might have to do with data breaches at larger companies where personal information was stolen during other attacks.
my phone and ipad have been hacked overnight, message on screen says "your device has been hacked by oleg pliss… http://t.co/fFiwPksX7o
— Eva Goes (@Eva53) May 26, 2014
If someone’s username and password were stolen from another compromised company, like a social network where the credentials were the same, hackers could then use those credentials to lock that person out of an Apple account, too. Situations like this just show yet again how important two-factor authentication and unique passwords are.
We browsed Apple’s support forums to see if the company had offered any solutions. One user found that a factory reset through iTunes fixed the problem, though we imagine his or her personal information is still floating around the Internet. Also, while that may grant you access to the device, it won’t fix the bigger problem at hand: that your password is still in someone else’s ownership.
So far the issue appears limited to Australia, though potentially it could happen anywhere. Hopefully Apple support is prepared to help anyone affected by the problem.