Apple released an update for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch owners worldwide to address a security issue that plagued all of these best-selling devices. Unfortunately, none of these software updates have any exciting new features, cool new emoji, or design changes – but you shouldn’t waste a second and install them on your devices right away.
This is because Apple has identified this latest update as “important” and says it is “recommended for all users”. To make sure your devices are safe, you need to make sure that your iPhone is running iOS 14.4.1, your iPad is up to date with iPadOS 14.4.1, Apple Watch is running watchOS 7.3.2, and your Mac macOS Big Sur 11.2.3 is switched on. If your Mac can’t install and run macOS Big Sur, you’ll need to install the latest version of Safari, which was also distributed to users this week. This is Safari 14.0.3.
Go to the Settings app on iPad and iPhone to check the version of the operating system you are running (and if necessary, install the latest update by clicking Settings> General> Software update) or launch System Preferences on the Mac to do the same.
If you have an Apple Watch, the best way to check the software you’re running and install an update is to use the Watch app on your iPhone.
The latest operating system updates have been released to address the same vulnerability on all Apple devices. The problem is due to a memory corruption bug in WebKit, the engine that supports Apple’s Safari web browser on all platforms. Hackers can take advantage of this flaw to run malicious code on your device, which can lead to private data being stolen behind your back. To attack your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, bad actors just have to trick you into visiting a malicious website on a version of Safari that has not been patched. That’s all.
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The problem with Apple’s WebKit was first reported by Google and Microsoft. Thankfully, hackers don’t seem to be taking advantage of this bug in the wild right now, so Apple users can stay one step ahead with the latest patches. This is in stark contrast to a bug recently discovered in Google Chrome that has been actively exploited by hackers around the world.
As a precaution, Apple does not list full details of how the bug works to prevent hackers from finding out about it in the release notes that came with the software update. This is a fairly common practice across the industry.
In addition to the new version of iOS, iPadOS, macOS and watchOS, Apple states: “To protect our customers, Apple only discloses, discusses or confirms security problems after an investigation has been carried out and patches or releases are generally available.”
If you haven’t updated your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple Watch yet, go to the Settings menu and start the process right away.