Well, here we go again: I’m writing an article to tell you that you really should update your iPhone, iPad or Mac ASAP, because the latest software for them fixes some pretty nasty bugs. Security Notes for iOS/iPadOS 15.6.1 and macOS 12.5.1 describe fixes for bugs in the operating system kernel (essentially the kernel that controls everything) and WebKit that could allow attackers to execute code malicious on your device. The notes also warn that bugs may have been actively exploited.
This is, unfortunately, something like the third or fourth time I’ve written an article explicitly asking people to update their iPhone or Mac to fix some pretty serious security flaws. And the truth is, I could have written this exact post even more times than that – there have been 13 updates to iOS 15 since its initial release, and new of them fixed some sort of arbitrary code execution bug. Often some of these bugs allowed attackers to gain kernel privileges.
Additionally, five of these security updates included the warning “Apple is aware of a report indicating that this issue may have been actively exploited”.
So while you’ve probably done this many times this year (and, honestly, years past), I’m going to repeat the steps to update your phone: go to Settings > General > Software update. On Mac, go to System Preferences > Software update.
Constant security updates aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Sure, they could indicate that lots of bugs are creeping into software, but they could just as well mean that a company has become very good at finding existing problems and fixing them. The reason I point to Apple’s recent track record is not to shame it, but to remind everyone that updates these days are pretty important and should be installed as soon as possible.
Yes, it’s actually very annoying to constantly update your computer or phone. No one wants their devices down for the few minutes it takes to install an update. But Apple is working on a way to make important security updates easier and more automatic.
iOS and iPadOS 16, along with macOS Ventura, will include something called “Rapid Security Response,” which appears to allow Apple to push security updates to your device that don’t require a restart. While some updates will likely still require a reboot (it’s hard to fix a problem with a kernel while the OS is running), the feature could remove at least some of the security burden. of your device.
The company is also introducing an “extreme” security setting called lockdown mode, although most people don’t want to enable it. Apple says lockdown mode will disable several features that are particularly vulnerable to security breaches, and that it’s primarily aimed at people who believe they may be targeted by expert hackers, such as those hired by governments. If that’s you, the feature should be available when iOS 16 and macOS Ventura release. (Also, wow, you seem very cool. Or very creepy.)
The rest of us, however, can just make sure to keep updating our devices whenever new security patches come out, no matter how annoying or how often it happens.