Apple: Double! Hackers can access cell phone data

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to: Georg Heinrich

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Apple has warned that a security vulnerability could allow hackers to gain control of devices and access data. Gap fixed – Apple users still have to be careful.

Munich – Apple also justifies the high prices of its devices by the fact that they must be especially secure. This is usually the case. Since the hardware and software come from a single source, the American group can “shut down” their mobile phones, tablets and computers very well. However, it is now clear that Apple cannot offer absolute protection against hackers either. Because in millions of iPhone, iPad and Mac devices, there is a vulnerability so serious that Apple urges its users to update the software on their devices. Security specialist Sophos talks about the “emergency updates” that have now been released.

What vulnerabilities is the Apple alert talking about?

Anonymous experts have discovered so-called zero-day vulnerabilities on devices. The term refers to errors that are so serious that the manufacturer has practically zero days to fix them. The vulnerabilities affect Apple’s Safari browser and its technology called WebKit, which is mandatory on iPhone and iPad. Safari is also used on Macs, but there are alternatives without WebKit in the form of Chrome and Firefox. Users browsing using Safari and other WebKit browsers run the risk of hackers taking complete control of their devices simply by visiting a specially designed website. According to Apple, the gap could already be actively exploited by hackers.

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How big are the risks?

The risks cited by Sophos experts sound like a nightmare scenario. Among other things, attackers can spy on all running applications, download and start additional applications on devices, access almost all data, change security settings, tap on cameras and microphones, and track browsing behavior. Spying on bank details and passwords, stealing photos or documents are just some of the risks.

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

Apple security leak: Which devices are affected?

  • iPhone 6S (2015) and all newer 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 the software as quickly as possible. This works via the device settings (the icon with the gray gear wheel) and is in the menu “General => Software Update” (iPhone and iPad) or “Software Update” (Mac). New, secure versions of iOS 15.6.1 (iPhone), iPadOS 15.6.1 (iPad), and macOS Monterey 12.5.1 (Mac) must be available for installation. Safari browser updates are available for both Catalina and Big Sur.

Shouldn’t Apple devices be more secure?

Basically yes. Since Apple strictly shuts down its own App Store and does not allow installations from external sources, the devices are considered relatively safe. Operating systems rarely have gaps. And unlike the Android operating system, which has recently greatly improved security, all Apple users always have instant access to new, secure versions of the operating system – for a good five years. According to antivirus experts at Panda, 47.2% of all web vulnerabilities occur on Android – and less than 1% on iPhone. Apple has yet to announce how the undoubtedly embarrassing security breakdown could have occurred.

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