You may have installed Apple’s iOS 9.3.4 update only three weeks ago, but there’s already another one ready for you — and you want to make sure you download it as soon as possible. The update, iOS 9.3.5, came out on August 25, 2016, to address three big security vulnerabilities that open nearly every part of your device up to hackers. Any Apple device you own that is running iOS 9 should be updated immediately; devices include iPhone 4S and newer, iPad 2 and newer, all iPad minis, all iPad pros, and the fifth and sixth generation of iPod Touch. If your device has not prompted you to install the update yet, you can manually start the process under Settings.
What could happen if you don’t install the update? The bugs make it easy for your phone or tablet to be accessed by attackers if you accidentally click on a malicious link sent via text message. Once the link is clicked, a virus — that is entirely invisible to you — is downloaded. After the virus is operating on your device, the hackers can have nearly free reign and gain access to your e-mails, text messages, calendars, photos, videos, and saved files. They can even listen to phone calls, track your location, and turn on the camera or microphone remotely. Meanwhile, you’d have no clue what was happening.
How Apple Discovered the Vulnerabilities
Apple was notified when security researchers at Lookout, a mobile software security company, and Citizen Lab, a technology-focused academic research center at the University of Toronto, found the flaws. They were contacted by Ahmed Mansoor, a prominent UAE human-rights activist after he received suspicious text messages that included sketchy-looking links. He forwarded the texts to Citizens Lab and Lookout, and they discovered three exploits that could be triggered in sequence and intercept all types of data from devices.
It appears as though the attack on Mansoor was political in nature and may be tied to the UAE government, but it proves that anyone with less-than-honorable intentions could easily do something similar.
Take Security Updates Seriously
Sometimes it might feel like there’s a new update every few weeks, but you must take each one seriously. Certain updates are fun or improve your device’s functionality, but others — like security updates — are essential and should be installed as soon as possible.
If you’re like most people, your phone is more than a phone — it’s your lifeline. It has contact information for everyone you know and love, all of your e-mails, treasured photos, and essential calendars. Do you want to let hackers see and steal everything you have stored in there? Protect your privacy and guard your identity by staying on top of all updates to your phones, tablets, and other electronic devices.