Apple have been forced to issue iOS update 10.3 after iPhone users reported ransomware attacks had blocked their Safari browsers.
The ransomware, sometimes known as ‘scareware’, accused the phone user of accessing illicit content on their device, including illegal pornography and pirated music.
Users were threatened that their browsers would stay locked unless they texted a £100 iTunes gift card to a specific mobile number held by the hackers.
However, the browsers were not in fact locked down and a simple wipe of the device’s browser cache was enough to cancel the pop-up.
It was IT security firm Lookout who uncovered the attacks and shared the information with Apple, however the attack had previously been reported in Russia. The attackers purchased numerous domains so they were able to edit the message displayed to victims based on what country they were based in.
Researchers at Lookout explained how the attacks were simple scare tactics designed to worry users into handing over the £100 ransom.
In a company blog post they wrote:
Despite this and the fact that the attacks did not actually access or encrypt any data, the actions were enough for Apple to take the threat seriously enough to release a software update.
Going forward, pop-ups will appear as a separate tab, rather than taking over the entire browser, allowing users to easily close any potentially harmful pop-ups.