Hackers locking Mac machines demand ransom

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(Tech Xplore)—Find My device is a service indeed—not only to Apple device owners but, guess who, to hackers.

At least in the sense that reports have been surfacing posted by hapless users of being locked out of their screens and told to pay up in Bitcoin.

It's easy to lock a Mac with a passcode in Find My iPhone if you have someone's Apple ID and password, said MacRumors.

Christina Bonnington in The Daily Dot also said hackers could use the Find My feature to lock your remotely and hold it for ransom.

She said these hackers are finding the Find My iPhone and desktop counterpart Find My Mac useful.

"If they learn your Apple ID and password, they can use it to remotely lock your device and hold it for ransom."

The device lock is accompanied by the message on your screen, asking you to pay up.

Lifehacker writer Nick Douglas reported that a Twitter user talked about a ransom note on a hacked Mac. "The asks for Bitcoin, the ransom currency of choice, as it's hard to trace," Douglas said.

Jon Martindale in Digital Trends: The ransom message is delivered on the lock screen itself, often with a Bitcoin wallet address. In the case of one user, their hacker demanded 0.01 Bitcoin to unlock the device, or around $40.

Paying up, though, "only emboldens hackers to continue the practice," Martindale remarked. "The best bet would be to contact Apple directly to help solve the problem."

More advice? Good luck with that. A number of sites had their own suggestions but few were in unison except for two consistent threads: (1) Update your ID passwords. (2) Don't pay the clowns.

Tyler Lee in Ubergizmo: "In order to prevent yourself from being hacked, users are recommended to update their Apple ID passwords as well as enable . Those who have been affected are also recommended to get in touch with Apple to have their computers unlocked."

Lifehacker recommended in an update that "We stand by our advice to turn off "Find My Mac." ... "Find My Device" still poses a potential back door for remote attacks on any Mac, and on any iPhone without a passcode. Still, many readers will prefer the risk of remote attacks to the risk of never recovering a stolen device."

Also, using the same password in multiple places is not a good idea, considering these scenarios.

Juli Clover, an editor at MacRumors: "Apple users should change their Apple ID passwords, enable two-factor authentication, and never use the same password twice."

Digital Trends said, "it would behoove you to use strong passwords, unique login credentials and two-factor authentication where possible."

Interestingly, a reader comment from someone who has done "computer security for a living," said that your phone was much more likely to be physically stolen than to be exploited in this manner.

Any incidents of such a thing in the real world? Yes. How did hackers get these people's passwords? Clover said the usernames and passwords of the iCloud accounts affected were likely found through various site data breaches and not through a breach of Apple's servers.

The hackers will need access to your iCloud username and password, said Ubergizmo. Once they have that, they can remotely lock a Mac computer using the passcode.

Moreover, said Clover, "Impacted users likely used the same email addresses, account names, and passwords for multiple accounts, allowing people with malicious intent to figure out their iCloud details."

BGR: "As long as you don't reuse , and your iCloud login is distinct from any of your username and password combo that may have been affected by a recent hack, you are safe," said Chris Smith.

Explore further: Resetting your Apple ID password can sometimes be tricky

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