Warning Issued to iPhone Users as Hackers Target Apple IDs in New Cyberattack

Warning Issued to iPhone Users as Hackers Target Apple IDs in New Cyberattack
Apple iPhone 15 models are displayed in the Apple The Grove store on the phone’s worldwide release day in Los Angeles, Calif., on Sept. 22, 2023. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A California-based security firm has issued a new warning to iPhone users after finding that cybercriminals are actively seeking to exploit Apple IDs through malicious SMS messages.

These forms of scams, also known as SMS phishing, are designed to trick recipients into revealing their Apple ID credentials. It is also used by hackers to access other sensitive information or to install malicious software on the devices of iPhone users.

“These credentials are highly valued, providing control over devices, access to personal and financial information, and potential revenue through unauthorized purchases,” Symantec owner Broadcom Inc. said in a notice on its website on July 2.

“Additionally, Apple’s strong brand reputation makes users more susceptible to trusting deceptive communications that appear to be from Apple, further enhancing the attractiveness of these targets to cybercriminals.”

Apple did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment from NTD.

Identifying the Scam

Symantec said in the notice that it discovered “a very recent case” of “smishing” in the United States involving hackers distributing deceptive SMS messages that appeared to be from Apple.

One such SMS message observed by the cybersecurity company and sent to iPhone users read: “Apple important request iCloud: Visit signin[.]authen-connexion[.]info/iCloud to continue using your services.”

Upon clicking the malicious link, iPhone users were directed to a webpage mimicking an outdated iCloud login template where they’re encouraged to hand over their credentials, according to the notice.

In addition, scammers also included a CAPTCHA—a type of challenge-response authentication used to determine whether the user is human—to the fake website that users had to complete before proceeding in order to make the phishing attack appear more legitimate, the company said.

Symantec also pointed out that the fake website could be accessed via desktop or mobile browsers, which the cybersecurity firm said is unusual for SMS phishing.

“Typically, smishing actors restrict access to their malicious websites to users on mobile browsers and specific regions to evade detection by monitoring systems,” the company said.

Tips to Avoid Phishing

In guidelines published on Apple’s support page on July 4, the tech giant said hackers will often convey a desire to help iPhone users resolve an immediate problem.

“They may claim that someone broke into your iPhone or iCloud account, or made unauthorized charges using Apple Pay. The scammer will claim they want to help you stop the attacker or reverse the charges,” the guidelines read.

Apple also said scammers might ask iPhone users to disable security features like two-factor authentication or Stolen Device Protection.

“They will claim that this is necessary to help stop an attack or to allow you to regain control of your account,” the company said. “However, they are trying to trick you into lowering your security so that they can carry out their own attack.”

Apple underscored that it will never ask its users to disable any security feature on their devices or accounts.

These types of scams are also not limited to Apple, many users have reported methods of scammers trying to trick recipients into revealing their credentials.

To avoid scams or identity theft, never open suspicious emails or click unsecured links from unknown emails, and be cautious when answering unexpected calls or messages if you don’t know the sender.

If you’re offered an unfamiliar job opportunity or money, this is often a scam. Requests from charities could also be a ploy to steal information.