Like many of us, Adam Rice depends on his smart phone.
That’s why he nearly panicked when it stopped working.
“It was like my entire life stopped,” said Rice, an NBC 6 photojournalist. “I couldn’t do anything. It was frozen.”
He turned on and off the phone several times but couldn’t get rid of a screen that popped up telling him he needed to call Apple Technical Support using a toll-free number.
He dialed the number. He first heard a recorded message and then was connected with a man who said multiple times he was with Apple. He told Rice the only way to fix the phone was to download a $40 app.
Nova Southeastern University’s Chair of the Department of Information Systems and Cybersecurity, James Parrish, said making the call or downloading the app could be a costly mistake.
“That’s the one thing that you should not do is to dial that number because now you have actually given the bad guys knowledge that there is someone at the end of that phone number,” Dr. Parrish said. “Certainly don’t pay them the money that they ask for and download whatever their ‘fix’ is because their fix is usually a gateway to more problems for you. Sometimes it will allow them to have access to your phone and they can get access to your personal information.
Apple confirmed that the toll-free line doesn’t connect you to their technical support.
Parrish says Apple products have had fewer incidents of these type of malware attacks but it does happen.
As for Adam, he didn’t buy the app and by doing some research, was able to unfreeze his phone.
Parrish says the way you do that is to force the browser to quit. On an Apple, you do that by quickly pressing the home button then swipe the page away. On Android, click the double box on the toolbar and swipe the page away. Then you clear your browser history and website data by going to settings and selecting the browser.
It’s also recommended to wipe your gadget clean and start over with factory settings after you back up your personal data on iCloud.
To avoid it in the first place, you should always use trusted apps in the app store. And don’t click on links in emails and on websites. Parrish also says you should verify that any attachment in an email is legitimate before opening it.