Russian police have arrested two alleged hackers they say extorted money from users of Apple devices by blocking them and demanding payment to free them up again.
The suspects, one a teenager and the other in his early 20s, could be jailed for two years if tried and convicted in what would be a relatively rare cybersecurity case in which Russian authorities have announced arrests.
The suspects, residents of Moscow, were arrested by the Interior Ministry's cybercrime department—Directorate K—and have given self-incriminating evidence, according to a ministry statement issued on Monday.
The ministry did not say how many Apple users were hit by the scam nor whether any were foreigners outside Russia.
It said the suspects exploited Apple's Find My iPhone app, which is meant to allow users to find and block devices they believe have been lost or stolen, to extort money from victims they targeted, using two methods.
"The first involved gaining access to the victim's Apple ID by means of the creation of phishing pages, (gaining) unauthorized access to email or using methods of social engineering,'' it said.
"The second scheme was aimed at attaching other people's devices to a pre-arranged account'' by offering Apple IDs with media content for lease on the Internet, which enabled the suspects to gain control of the devices, the statement said.
Cybersecurity experts and Western law enforcement agencies have raised questions about Russia's commitment to fighting hackers on its soil, who have been blamed for some attacks on Western government and business computers in the past.