Oleg Pliss

A growing number of iPhone, iPad and Mac users in Australia are turning to the Apple Support Communities and Twitter to report incidents of their device being remotely locked through iCloud. In some cases, a fraudulent message appears through the Find my iPhone service demanding payment between $50 and $100 to someone named Oleg Pliss for the device to be unlocked… 

iPad user veritylikestea wrote the following on the Apple Support Communities:

“I was using my iPad a short while ago when suddenly it locked itself, and was askiwhich [sic] I’d never previously set up. 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 lock404(at)hotmail.com) to return them to me.”

Another user ShellsBell57 and several others corroborated the ongoing issue:

“I have the exact same problem, with the same message from “Oleg Pliss”. I assume I can erase my phone, but is there anything else that can be done? I have changed my iCloud password.”

Affected users have also turned to Twitter to voice their concerns:

As reported by the Melbourne-based newspaper The Age, there is a software engineer and computer scientist at Oracle named Oleg Pliss, in addition to a banking professional in Ukraine and several others in Russia. It is safe to assume that a senior Oracle employee is not the source of these attacks, but rather hackers simply using a fake name.

PayPal has acknowledged that it is aware of the situation, and advises that anyone monetarily affected by this situation will be refunded. A spokesperson also confirmed that no PayPal account is linked to the email address provided by the hacker. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has also received one report on the issue so far. Apple has not commented on the matter.

It appears that only Australian users have had their devices held hostage, particularly those in the states of Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria. It is speculated that hackers have taken advantage of recent security vulnerabilities to compromise Apple ID accounts, in turn allowing for them to remotely lock iPhones, iPads and Macs through iCloud.

How to secure your Apple ID account

Signing in to iCloud Keychain

It is highly recommended that users set a strong unique password and enable two-step verification for their Apple ID. Our own Cody Lee has written step-by-step instructions on how to setup two-step authentication for an Apple ID if you are unsure how to do so.

iPhone, iPad and Mac users can go one step further by looking into a secure password manager such as 1Password. The app features a strong password generator, authenticated encryption, cross-platform syncing, security auditing and much more.

  • This is exactly why I enabled 2-step verification; get an alert when someone attempts login into your account. Next up, users complain to Apple for being locked out of their iTunes account while just browsing/emailing on their iPhone…

    • White Michael Jackson

      Could you help me out? I have two-step verification enabled, but when I test it by going to apple.id.Com it tells my iphone is offline. When I enter safemode on the iphone two-step works. What cydia tweaks might effect the connection to icloud, findmyiphone, and two-step verification? I think it might be my edited hosts file but the phone worked in safemode.

      • chiliboots

        I could, but I won’t.

      • White Michael Jackson

        Ok… Thanks

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        Hosts files still apply in safe mode (they are global whether you are in safe mode or substrate mode with all of your tweaks). The issue could really be anything if you don’t mind uninstalling all of your tweaks that might solve things. If you want to lose everything and start fresh you can also use Better Semi Restore (bettersemirestore .com)…

      • White Michael Jackson

        I’ll look into using this.

      • If it works in safe mode, that implies it’s a tweak that’s interrupting. All I can think of is you download and install iCleaner pro from the following source:

        http://exile90software com/cydia/

        Use it to disable ALL mobile substrate addons (i.e. tweaks), then re-test the login. If it still fails, then it’s some function buried in iOS 7’s code that’s detecting if your iDevice is jailbroken (ie has root access)…in which case, iDB should write a post titled “2-Step Verification Doesn’t Work for Jailbroken iDevices Running iOS 7+”, with the hopes of have a dev like Ryan come to the rescue with a tweak.

        If it works, then it’s definitely a tweak you have installed that’s interrupting. In which case, you should re-enable them 1 by 1 and re-attempt the login process each time until it stops working. It’s a tedious process, but it’s guranteed to pin-point the mobile substrate addon that’s blocking your 2-step verification.

  • xSeriouSx

    No, you’re securing it wrong.

    • Zaidan Umar

      -_-

      • xSeriouSx

  • It’s strange that they would go through all this trouble, and technically skilled work to hack everyone’s devices and somehow forget that their PayPal doesn’t even exist. Perhaps this is more of a proof of concept kinda thing?

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      It’s more than likely a “Look at me, I am zeh master hacker *Enters Password123 into the password field*”. People that get there accounts hacked only have themselves to blame. I’ve never had any of my online accounts compromised and since I’ve been using 1Password for everything I likely won’t…

      • Niclas

        I’ve never been hit by a car, so everyone who have, should blame themselves.

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        This is a bad analogy since you can prevent against getting hit by a car by not going near roads or just not leaving your house. This is not the same for Internet accounts. There is only one main way to protect against getting hacked and that is to make sure you choose secure passwords and if you don’t then yes you really do only have yourself to blame when you get hacked. To go back on your analogy there are some people that have no regard for the law and if they’re driving and you are in their way then this is not your fault and there is nothing you can do other than try to jump out of the way since you will get hit.
        Tldr; Don’t try to compare getting hit by a car since you can’t prevent this from happening whereas with online accounts you can prevent against them getting hacked. If you choose not to prevent against your accounts getting hacked then this is completely and utterly 100% your fault when your accounts get hacked…

      • xSeriouSx

        Actually, it’s a 100% accurate analogy. Here’s why:

        “you can prevent against getting hit by a car by not going near roads or just not leaving your house”

        That’s like saying you can prevent getting hacked by taking precautions (eg better passwords) or not using certain services.

        “There is only one main way to protect against getting hacked and that is to make sure you choose secure passwords”

        Firstly, that’s like saying the only main way to protect against getting hit by a car while on the side-walk (ie when using the service) is to stay on the inner part of the sidewalk.

        Secondly, nope, that’s the user’s part of precaution, the service owner’s part of the precaution is to continuously ensure the service is secure from unintended dangers.

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        “Secondly, nope, that’s the user’s part of precaution, the service owner’s part of the precaution is to continuously ensure the service i s secure from unintended dangers.”
        Apple does this by enforcing a certain pattern for passwords that involves using capital letters and numbers. Even then the service owner can’t do much more other than enforce restrictions on passwords which could potentially annoy users so much that they change to another service and ensure passwords are stored in the database securely. If you get hacked like it or not if your hacked because your password has been guessed either because it’s insecure or because they obtained it through social engineering this is completely and utterly your fault…

      • xSeriouSx

        That’s besides the point; saying it’s only the user’s fault if they get hacked is like saying it’s only the pedestrian’s fault if they get hit by a vehicle.

        “If you get hacked like it or not if your hacked because your password has been guessed either because it’s insecure or because they obtained it through social engineering this is completely and utterly your fault…”

        Duh! That’s like saying if you get hit by a vehicle because you jumped in front of it (ie failed to do your part of the precaution), it’s totally your fault. Of course it is. Again the point was that the analogy is 100% accurate.

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        Then I guess I didn’t properly interpret the analogy and retract my previous statements.

      • Kurt

        Agee 100%

        What does TLDR mean? I thought it was too long didn’t read. Btw I was hit by a car a few years ago. I was standing on the side walk. Got hit from behind.

      • Kurt

        I’ve been hit by a car. By a middle aged woman who just got her license. I was standing on the side walk. :-/

      • Niclas

        As it is an analog, it has nothing to do with people actually getting hit by cars.
        Hope you didn’t hurt yourself.

      • Kurt

        I know I just thought it was funny so I shared. Thanks, I was fine after some physical therapy.

  • Webpain

    Maybe it is the ‘Unflod’ virus that leaked the apple ID and password…

  • Jacob S

    I just wonder if these phones are jailbroken or not???

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      Probably not. If they were it would be easy to remove the passcode on the device…

  • Lucky

    I don’t think setting a password makes everything go off beautifully. Some hackers easily gain access to Wi-Fi connected iPhone when it’s jail-broken if they try the default root password, 80% jailbreakers know nothing about the root password configuration after their jailbreak!!! Some users even install spy apps like ikeymonitor to steal unlock pass-code when the device is jailbroken. We are not living in a safe world protected by password.

    But it is at least safer than no password. In normal cases, password is a protective and useful shield, even if it is weak to some extend.. The tech world is dangerous.

  • Ted Forbes

    Backup and restore