For some time now, Windows users have been targeted by criminals who effectively lock their computers and extort money from them – using malicious software called Ransomware. Much of the time, the scammers display messages pretending to be from law enforcement, alleging user access to pornography, etc. and users generally cannot remove these messages unless they pay.
Mobile Safari flaw
Unfortunately, a flaw in Apple’s Mobile Safari browser brought this problem to iOS users. Malicious code on some websites forced the browser to constantly display a message telling people that Safari could not open a page because it was “invalid” and that it was caused by viewing illegal pornography.
Users were told to email an address for unlocking instructions, or forcing them to buy an iTunes gift card to pay a fine.
How to fix this flaw
Due to the nature of what the scammers were alleging, many users did not ask for help, which is a pity as the message could be removed by going into device settings and clearing the browser’s cache, or going into ‘Airplane mode’ and closing the tab – things which the scammers knew most users would not be aware of.
This flaw has been present for some time, but has now been fixed in the 10.3 iOS release this week, amongst other fixes and tweaks to the operating system.
As with all iOS releases, there are pluses and minuses when upgrading, but Ransomware is just one good reason to upgrade today.