This week, some iPhone owners in Australia got a rude awakening: their phones were hacked, locked, and held for ransom. A hacker named "Oleg Pliss" instructed owners to send money to a PayPal account in order to unlock their devices. Some users in the United States experienced a similar message.
If the iPhone owner has a passcode on their device, they seemed to be able to get back in. Those who didn't had to restore their devices to factory settings. (That's why you should back up to iTunes regularly!)
Ransomware hackers usually charge between $60 to $200 to allow the user back into their device. It total, victims have ended up paying about $5 million per year in ransom to hackers, according to NPR. It used to be most prevalent with desktop and laptop computers, though it is now being seen in mobile devices more often.
Considering all the recent high-profile hacks of corporations — Target, Yahoo, eBay, and most recently Spotify — hackers have gained access to a wide variety of email addresses and passwords. These emails overlapped with Apple IDs, and passwords often overlap with emails, and are also relatively easy to guess from having just a small sample of a user's digital presence