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iPhone security bug – what you need to know

A serious security flaw could lead to hackers taking over your iPhone. Here’s all you need to know, including what to do about it.

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Apple is urging users to update their iPhone’s software now

Apple is urging users to update their iPhone’s software now

Apple is urging users to update their iPhone’s software now

An iPhone security bug that could give someone complete control over your phone has been discovered, with Apple warning users to update their iPhones and iPads now.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is this bug?

It’s actually a flaw, or vulnerability, in the core system (the ‘kernel’) that runs iPhones, iPads and Macs. It can let someone who knows what they’re doing into the device to take control of it.

How damaging has it been so far?

Apple says that it is “aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited”. What this means is that it may not have infiltrated many devices, but it has proven to work as a hack. Security expert Rachel Tobac of SocialProof has described it as giving “full admin access” to the iPhone, iPad or Mac, leading to an ability to “execute any code as if they are you, the user”.

Who does it affect?

Anyone with an iPhone bought in the last five or six years, meaning from iPhone 6S onwards. It also affects most recent iPads and any Mac computer running MacOS Monterey. It even affects some iPods.

What are the chances that I might be targeted with this security flaw?

Probably quite low. This kind of flaw is typically exploited by organisations that sell sophisticated spying tools to nation states. Previous flaws have been associated with hacks on journalists, politicians and other high profile figures.

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How did this come to light?

Apple was made aware of it by unnamed security researchers.

Aren’t iPhones supposed to be safe?

Yes. but these flaws are unfortunately becoming less rare. This is not the first potential security vulnerability that Apple has had to ‘patch’ in the current version of iOS.

What has Apple said about it?

It has asked everyone to update their iPhones. “An application may be able to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges,” it said about the flaw. “Processing maliciously crafted web content may lead to arbitrary code execution. Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited.”

What should I do now?

If you have an iPhone or iPad, go to Settings, then General, then Software Update. You’ll see a new update there waiting to be installed. Do that. For a Mac or MacBook, go to System Preferences and then Software Update.


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