Users of iPads are lucky people. It’s a great device and they think they are free of interruptions like viruses. My friend recently had an interesting experience with her iPad.
It seems someone may have actually hacked into it. I thought that was impossible with an iPad or an iOS operating system. One tech site says that even though it’s not possible to write a true virus for the iPad, malware, which is simply a term for apps that have bad intentions such as tricking you into giving passwords, can exist on the iPad. What a surprise to me.
All this said, we are not quite sure what happened here, but I’m going to tell you the story and I hope you can use the information in the future.
My friend turned on her iPad for its usual daily use. She noticed that she was not able to make any moves on it. It seemed to be completely frozen and then a message appeared which said her iPad had been compromised and for help with the problem she should call an 800 number. That also appeared in a box. It looked very authentic.
She was so frustrated at not being able to use the iPad that she immediately picked up the phone to call this official looking number. A man answered and said he was a tech and then asked, “How can I help you?” He had a strong accent and was somewhat difficult to understand. Eventually she asked to speak to someone else and he said that wasn’t possible. There was no one else, even though she could hear a lot of noise and people talking in the background.
It all sounded very official though. When she described her problem of the computer locking up, he said he could diagnose the situation if she would just attach her iPad with her power cord to her laptop PC, which she said was nearby. After complying, the process allowed him access to everything on her other computer and her iPad.
She could see movement around the computer screen. As he was scanning things, the tech (maybe he was?) told her he was diagnosing the situation, finally saying there’s a problem with your IP address and your router has been infected. You need to get a new server. What? Now she was beginning to doubt him.
She became concerned about what was actually going on and then he said it would be $380 to repair the problem and gave her an address somewhere in Union County to take her iPad. She said, “That’s ridiculous, I’ll just get a new one.” He added that he could do the repair for $300 by apparently fixing the problem online. He continued to press her to repair her computer.
About that time her grandson, who is of course a very tech savvy guy, appeared on the scene and stepped in to help. He took the phone from her and after talking to the guy a minute, told the man that the conversation was over. This was probably a really good move.
A little later they decided to call the Apple Store for help. Someone there listened to her and said he could give her instructions to put it back to the factory settings to unlock the iPad. That could wipe out all her information except what was saved to the cloud, I believe. And if that didn’t work the Apple people advised her to bring it into the store and they would try to help.
A few hours passed and after some consideration, she decided to try the factory setting approach. When she turned on the iPad, it was suddenly unlocked – all by itself. All was well.
What really happened here? Was this a temporary intervention by someone else that only lasted about 12 hours? Could it have been something interjected by an outside source?
When my friend searched that 800 number online, others had a lot to say. Many had the same problem and called it a scam! Was it? Could the scanning have stolen important info from her laptop computer? Some quick thinking led her to notify her bank and eventually change her entry information into her account. No damage was done, thankfully.
The answer to this problem is, before you make a phone call to a number that appears on the screen, check it out on the Internet to see if it is connected to a legitimate company and if anyone else has had this problem.
Now, as an interesting aside, the same friend had just been telling me that before this incident, she had a call on her cell phone saying there was a problem with her computer. It was noticed online and it needed to be repaired and they could help. This person also had a very strong accent. She didn’t fall for that.
Literally, just a few minutes after we had this conversation, my cell phone rang. The man said, in a decided accent, “We noticed there is a problem with your computer.” I said, “Seriously, is that right? And really why would you be calling me?”
He continued, “We noticed many computers had been infected in the area and yours is too.” He wanted to fix it for me. I said some choice words to him that I can’t share with you and hung up.
Really, is there nothing safe from larceny anymore?
(Melanie Behrens – firstname.lastname@example.org)
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