Hackers accused of holding iPhones & iPads to ransom detained in Russia


Two hackers accused of masterminding attacks that held iPhone and iPad users to ransom have been arrested in Russia.

Russian authorities said two people in Moscow had confessed to the attacks on a number of Apple devices, which IT Pro reported on last month.

In an official statement, the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs said the pair devised the plan that saw the creation of a phishing website to collect iCloud logins. These logins were then used to lock the devices

To date, the attacks have mainly affected Australian users. Victims would receive a message informing them their iPhone, iPad or Mac was "hacked by Oleg Pliss" and to unlock it would require a payment of $100. Users in New Zealand, the US and UK were also affected by the scam.

The Russian Interior Ministry detained the duo, aged 17 and 23, during "operational activities", Russia's Ministry of Internal Affairs said.

The pair was caught when they tried to withdraw money from their victims at a cash machine. In a raid, authorities seized computers, sim cards and phones. They also found "literature on hacking computer systems".

The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs said police had successfully "stopped the activities of the group of persons involved in the blocking of Apple devices to extort funds".

At the time of the hacking attempts, Apple said iCloud had not suffered a security breach. "Apple takes security very seriously and iCloud was not compromised during this incident," it said in a statement.

Apple users that had passcodes enabled on their devices were able to bypass the attack, whereas those without them would have had to re-install iOS from a backup.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.