JavaScript-Based Safari Ransomware Exploit Patched in iOS 10.3

iOS 10.3, released to the public this morning, fixes a bug that allowed scammers to attempt to extort money from iOS users through a JavaScript pop-up in Safari.

As explained by mobile security firm Lookout (via Ars Technica), the scammers targeted iOS users viewing pornographic material and abused JavaScript pop-ups to create an endless pop-up loop that essentially locked the browser if the user didn't know how to bypass it.

ransomwarescam
Using "scareware" messages and posing as law enforcement, the scammers used the pop-ups to extort money in the form of iTunes gift cards from the victim, promising to unlock the browser for a sum of money.

The scammers abused the handling of pop-ups in Mobile Safari in such a way that a person would be "locked" out from using Safari unless they paid a fee -- or knew they could simply clear Safari's cache (see next section). The attack was contained within the app sandbox of the Safari browser; no exploit code was used in this campaign, unlike an advanced attack like Pegasus that breaks out of the app sandbox to install malware on the device.

The scammers registered domains and launched the attack from the domains they owned, such as police-pay[.]com, which the attackers apparently named with the intent of scaring users looking for certain types of material on the Internet into paying money.

The endless pop-up issue could be fixed by clearing the Safari cache, but many users likely did not know they didn't need to shell out money to regain access to their browsers.

Pop-up scams are no longer possible with iOS 10.3, as Apple has changed the way pop-up dialogs work. Pop-ups are now per-tab and no longer take over the entire Safari app.

Top Rated Comments

seanmcbay Avatar
50 months ago
Great news. These pop-up loops are the worst thing and they don't belong in 2017. Now Apple needs to prevent Safari ads from automatically taking you to the App Store for some crappy IAP fest game.
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
man3ster Avatar
50 months ago
Finally, I can search for porn again.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ApfelKuchen Avatar
50 months ago

I think it's all on apple to stop these scams and also refund anyone duped by them, because they've allowed a third party to effectively break the device and allow the scam to work.

"Allowed" how? Did they give the scammers instructions on how to "break" the device?

Good luck suing the makers of door locks or plate glass for "allowing" a burglar to pick the lock or break a window. Good luck suing the police for "allowing" the break-in. Good luck suing the telephone company for "allowing" a scammer to place a call, or the city for "allowing" a scammer to ring your doorbell. Failing to provide 100% safety is not the same as "allowing" a crime to occur.

The creators of these browser scams find weaknesses in the software. The developers of browsers plug the weaknesses. That's the same cat-and-mouse game you find anywhere there's crime.

Browsers are a particularly good target because, among other things, browsers are expected to correctly display web pages, regardless of who created that web page. Open Internet, and all that. You want a guarantee of 100% safety? Don't use the Internet.

I love the diversity around here. Some people complain that Apple's software allowed a scam to occur. Apple (presumably) attends to their needs by issuing software updates to combat the scams. Others are all up in arms, "How dare Apple force these updates upon us!"
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zzLZHzz Avatar
50 months ago

And I hope Apple can STOP the automatic update downloads.
Sometimes I run out of storage and Apple still sends the signal to download the iOS update.

as a developers, i hope they will continue with the automatic update.

the moment user have a choice in that, people will never update their OS and it just goes downhill from there.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DBZmusicboy01 Avatar
50 months ago
And I hope Apple can STOP the automatic update downloads.
Sometimes I run out of storage and Apple still sends the signal to download the iOS update.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
wikiverse Avatar
50 months ago

There is a switch to stop app updates, but that doesn't include iOS itself? Unfortunate that Apple hasn't provided user control over that yet, but they do provide a way of deleting the downloaded update now.

https://www.igeeksblog.com/how-to-remove-software-update-download-from-iphone-ipad/

Except they force the download on you again as soon as you are connected to a Wifi Network, not only wasting space on your phone but wasting your download quotas on wifi - something extremely annoying and expensive if you live in a rural area, or are using hotel wifi. How about just having an opt-out option, or at least not immediately downloading it again if it is deleted.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iphone 5s black slate

Images of Unreleased iPhone 5s in Black and Slate Shared Online

Sunday January 17, 2021 9:47 am PST by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today shared images of a prototype iPhone 5s in an unreleased Black and Slate color. The iPhone 5s was launched in September 2013. The device featured Touch ID, a 64-bit processor, and a True Tone LED flash for the first time. Other new features included a five-element lens with an f/2.2 aperture, a 15 percent larger camera sensor, Burst Mode, and Slo-Mo...
iP12 charge airpods feature 2

Hidden iPhone 12 Hardware Feature Could Still be Unlocked

Thursday January 14, 2021 2:51 am PST by
All iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models purportedly have a hidden reverse wireless charging feature, according to an FCC filing. The feature has not yet been activated, but could yet be unlocked for an upcoming Apple accessory. The FCC filing suggests that iPhone 12 models contain the hardware for Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) to accessories: In addition to being able to be charged by a...
Top Stories 43 Feature

Top Stories: MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro, and iPhone Rumors, Best of CES 2021

Saturday January 16, 2021 6:00 am PST by
This week was sure a busy one in the Apple world, with a flurry of announcements out of CES early in the week followed by a rash of Mac- and iPhone-related rumors later in the week. The new rumors this week included details on updated MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac Pro models, as well as a few other tidbits, so make sure to read on below to get caught up! Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models to...
foldable iPhone concept feature

Apple Testing In-Display Fingerprint Sensor for iPhone 13, Foldable iPhone Also in the Works

Friday January 15, 2021 1:46 pm PST by
Apple has started "early work" on an iPhone that has a foldable display, according to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Though testing of a foldable iPhone has begun, Apple has not committed to releasing a device that has a foldable display. Development has not yet expanded beyond a display and Apple does not have full foldable iPhone prototypes in its labs. Like foldable...
16inchmacbookpromain

Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models to Feature Flat-Edged Design, MagSafe, No Touch Bar and More Ports

Thursday January 14, 2021 9:32 pm PST by
Apple is working on two new MacBook Pro models that will feature significant design changes, well-respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a note to investors that was obtained by MacRumors. According to Kuo, Apple is developing two models in 14 and 16-inch size options. The new MacBook Pro machines will feature a flat-edged design, which Kuo describes as "similar to the iPhone 12" ...
macbook pro flexgate

Apple Extends 13-Inch MacBook Pro Backlight Repair Program

Sunday January 17, 2021 10:31 am PST by
Apple this week extended its worldwide 13-inch MacBook Pro Display Backlight Service Program, authorizing coverage for eligible notebooks for up to five years after the original purchase date or up to three years after the start date of the program, whichever is longer. The previous cutoff was four years after the original purchase date. Apple launched the program on May 21, 2019 after...
iphone x camera close

iOS 14.4 Will Introduce Warning on iPhones With Non-Genuine Cameras

Thursday January 14, 2021 8:07 am PST by
In the second beta of iOS 14.4 seeded to developers and public testers this week, MacRumors contributor Steve Moser has discovered code indicating that Apple will be introducing a new warning on iPhones that have had their camera repaired or replaced with aftermarket components rather than genuine Apple components. "Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple camera," the message will...
Apple TV Ray Light 2 Triad

Apple Extends Free Apple TV+ Trials Until July

Friday January 15, 2021 10:50 am PST by
Apple is once again planning to extend its free Apple TV+ trial subscriptions, this time until July. When Apple TV+ launched in November 2019, Apple offered free Apple TV+ subscriptions to those who purchased a new Apple device in or after September 2019. Those free subscriptions were set to expire in November 2020, but in October 2020, Apple announced that it was extending free trials...
mac pro mini feature

Apple Working on Two New Mac Pro Desktops, One of Which Will Be Reminiscent of Power Mac G4 Cube

Friday January 15, 2021 10:23 am PST by
Apple is developing two versions of the Mac Pro to succeed the Mac Pro that was first released in December 2019, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The first updated Mac Pro is a direct successor to the current Mac Pro and it will use the same design. It may also be equipped with Intel processors rather than Apple silicon chips, and it could be one of the sole machines in the Mac...
macbook pro magsafe

MagSafe is Coming Back to the Mac: A Look Back at Apple's Original Magnetic Charging Technology

Friday January 15, 2021 12:16 pm PST by
Surprise late night rumors last night provided us with our first in-depth look at what we can expect from the new MacBook Pro models that are coming in 2021, and there are some significant changes in the works. Along with additional ports, a new flat-edged design, and the removal of the Touch Bar, Apple's updated MacBook Pro machines will readopt MagSafe. MagSafe in the 2021 MacBook Pro...