Apple iPhone and iPad users have been warned to change their iCloud account password after a hacking attempt.
The ‘Oleg Pliss’ hack forces devices to lock and display a message demanding US$100 (£55) be sent to a PayPal account. Only then will the unit be released.
Owners of the smartphones and tablets in Australia and New Zealand began receiving the messages in the early hours of Monday morning. However, users on the Apple community support forum have reported the same hacking message has appeared in both the US and Britain.
Apple has not yet issued a full statement on the incident but security experts have pointed out that this is more likely to be the result of a phishing scam, rather than an iCloud server fault.
"It seems likely that cyber criminals gained access to Apple ID credentials, for example by using phishing emails targeting Apple IDs,” David Emm, a member of the global research and analysis team at web security company Kaspersky Lab told The Guardian.
"Such scams have been around for years. By using the credentials to access an Apple iCloud account, the attackers can enable the 'Find My iPhone' service - this is not only able to locate a lost or stolen device, but also to set a passcode preventing third parties from accessing the personal data stored on the smartphone.”
To change your iPhone or iPad password, simply visit iforgot.apple.com and follow the instructions.