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.


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.

Related Roundup: iOS 10

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JavaScript-Based Safari Ransomware Exploit Patched in iOS 10.3 - This Apple related article wrote by Juli Clover. To see its original version and more Apple related posts follow this link:
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