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Hackers threaten to erase millions of Apple devices

24th March 2017

We’ve heard some pretty worrying reports that a group of criminals, calling themselves The Turkish Crime Family, are threatening to delete the contents of millions of Apple devices (iPhones, iPads, and Macs) worldwide.

Claiming to have access to between 250 and 560 million iCloud accounts, this so-called ‘Family’ are holding Apple to ransom to the tune of $75,000 (or $100,000 in iTunes gift cards). Apple allegedly has until 7th April 2017 to meet their demands or the devices will be wiped clean.

Apple’s response, however, has been one of reassurance. It claims there has been no breach of Apple’s systems, and that the iCloud login details in question appear “to have been obtained from previously compromised third-party services”.

So… should we be worried? And, if we are, what can we do about it?

Change your password

Well, whether or not this group’s claims are true, the first thing to do, is to change your Apple ID password. And that’s pretty easy. Just go to your Apple ID profile page on Apple’s website and log in. Then go down to the section labelled Security, click on the Change Password link and follow the instructions from there.

If you’ve time, you could also enable Two-factor Authentication. You can learn more about it on Apple’s tech-support pages but, in brief, this gives you an additional level of security by making it essential that you have a trusted device with you (such as your phone, iPad, or Mac) whenever you log in to an Apple service (including iTunes or the App Store) on a new or different computer.

Anything else?

Yep. Time for a little reminder about back ups.

While your iPad or iPhone may automatically back up to iCloud every night, there’s actually a good chance that you don’t have enough storage space for a complete backup. Apart from the shock and disappointment when you realise that all your photos or other important data are missing if you ever need to recover them… you’ll find yourself up the creek without a paddle if iCloud itself ever gets hacked.

To avoid this, plug your mobile device or tablet into your computer and perform a manual backup to iTunes. This will ensure that everything is backed up – and turning on encrypted backups will also ensure that your WiFi passwords and health-related data (such as heart-rate, step count etc) are also backed up.

Of course you do need to back up your Mac too and there are plenty of options out there such as Time Machine and many others. Spend some time checking them out and make sure that you and your data are completely covered.

Stay safe!

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