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Apple: vulnerability! Hackers could access cell phone data

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Of: George Heinrich

Apple warned that a vulnerability could allow hackers to take control of devices and access data. The gap has been fixed – Apple users still need to be careful.

Munich – Apple also justifies the high prices of its devices with the fact that they should be particularly secure. This is usually the case. Because the hardware and software come from a single source, the US group can very well “seal” their cell phones, tablets and computers. However, it is now clear that Apple cannot offer absolute security against hackers either. Because in millions of iPhones, iPads and Mac computers there is a security hole so serious that Apple urges its users to update the software on their devices. Security specialist Sophos speaks of “emergency updates” that have now been released.

What loopholes does Apple’s alert address?

Anonymous experts have discovered two so-called zero-day vulnerabilities in the devices. The term refers to bugs that are so serious that the manufacturer has virtually zero days to fix them. The vulnerabilities affect Apple’s Safari browser and its technology called WebKit, which is required on iPhone and iPad. Safari is also used on the Mac, but non-WebKit alternatives exist in the form of Chrome and Firefox. Users browsing with Safari and other WebKit browsers are at risk of hackers taking full control of their devices simply by accidentally visiting a specially crafted website. According to Apple, hackers could already have actively exploited the breach.

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How big are the dangers?

The risks Sophos experts list sound like a nightmare scenario. Among other things, attackers can spy on all running apps, load and launch additional apps on devices, access almost all data, change security settings, touch cameras and microphones, and track browsing behavior. Spying on bank details and passwords, theft of photos or documents are just some of the dangers.

Apple warns of a vulnerability that hackers could use to access private data. (symbol photo) © imageBROKER/Valentin Wolf/Imago

Apple security leak: Which devices are affected?

  • iPhone 6S (2015) and all subsequent iPhones up to the current iPhone 13
  • All iPad Pro models
  • iPad Air 2 (2014) and later
  • iPad 5 (2017) and later
  • iPad mini 4 (2015) and later
  • iPod Touch 7 (2019)
  • Mac computers with Catalina operating systems (2019)
  • Big Sur (2020) and Monterey (2021)

What should Apple users do now?

Since there is no automatic update, the most important step is to update your software as soon as possible. This works via the device settings (the symbol with the gray gear) and there in the menu “General => Software Update” (iPhone and iPad) or “Software Update” (Mac). The new and safe versions iOS 15.6.1 (iPhone), iPadOS 15.6.1 (iPad), and macOS Monterey 12.5.1 (Mac) should be available there for installation. Safari browser updates are available for Catalina and Big Sur.

Shouldn’t Apple devices be more secure?

Basically yes. Because Apple rigorously seals its App Store and does not allow installations from third-party sources, the devices are considered relatively safe. Operating systems also rarely have loopholes. And unlike Android, which recently has significantly improved security, all Apple users always have immediate access to new, secure versions of the operating system, for five years. According to Panda antivirus experts, 47.2 percent of all web security vulnerabilities occur on Android, and less than one percent on iPhone. Apple has yet to announce how the undoubtedly embarrassing security collapse might occur.

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