How to update your iPhone, iPad to avoid this serious security problem; list of Apple devices affected

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Apple this week warned users of serious security vulnerabilities for iPhones, iPads and Macs that could potentially allow attackers to take complete control of these devices.

Security experts have advised users to update affected devices — the iPhone6S and later models; several models of the iPad, including the 5th generation and later, all iPad Pro models and the iPad Air 2; and Mac computers running MacOS Monterey. The flaw also affects some iPod models.

Without the latest update, a hacker could wrest total control of Apple devices. That would allow intruders to impersonate the device’s owner and subsequently run any software in their name, said Rachel Tobac, CEO of SocialProof Security.

The good news? There’s an easy fix: just update your Apple phone, computer or tablet.

WHY IS UPDATING YOUR APPLE DEVICE SO URGENT?

Updates can be time consuming and sluggish. But they are necessary to keep your device safe from hackers who might run malicious code on your device.

WHY DOESN’T MY APPLE DEVICE DO THIS FOR ME?

Apple devices are set to automatic updates by default, but it can be quicker to check for the latest updates and do it manually.

WHAT APPLE DEVICES ARE AFFECTED?

The affected devices include the iPhone6S and later models; several models of the iPad, including the 5th generation and later, all iPad Pro models and the iPad Air 2; and Mac computers running MacOS Monterey. The flaw also affects some iPod models.

HOW DO I UPDATE MY DEVICE?

To update your Apple device to the latest operating system that includes the security patches on your phone go to “Settings,” click “General” and click “Software Update.” On the Mac, go to “System Preferences,” then “Software Update.”

HOW HIGH IS THE RISK THAT MY PHONE WAS COMPROMISED BEFORE I INSTALLED THE UPDATE?

Unless you are a journalist, political dissident or human rights activist the chances are extremely low. The kinds of spyware created to exploit vulnerabilities of the type patched by Apple are expensive and employed in targeted hacking.

Apple did not say in the reports how, where or by whom the vulnerabilities were discovered. In all cases, it cited an anonymous researcher.

Commercial spyware companies such as Israel’s NSO Group are known for identifying and taking advantage of such flaws, exploiting them in malware that surreptitiously infects targets’ smartphones, siphons their contents and surveils the targets in real time.

NSO Group has been blacklisted by the U.S. Commerce Department. Its spyware is known to have been used in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America against journalists, dissidents and human rights activists.

Security researcher Will Strafach said he had seen no technical analysis of the vulnerabilities that Apple has just patched. The company has previously acknowledged similarly serious flaws and, in what Strafach estimated to be perhaps a dozen occasions, has noted that it was aware of reports that such security holes had been exploited.


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