Urgent Update With Vital iPhone Security Fix | #macos | #macsecurity


The next expected update for iOS is 14.5 with lots of new features in it. But today, Apple has released iOS 14.4.2. To do that now, so close to the expected release of iOS 14.5 which could land, frankly any day now, tells you that the company thinks there’s something very important to address here.

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Here’s what the update contains and how to get it, with Apple’s full security advice at the bottom of the post.

How to get it

This update is for compatible iPhones, with iPadOS 14.4.2 for compatible iPads. Compatibility for the phones goes back as far as the iPhone 6s, including iPhone SE (both the first and current editions), plus the seventh-generation iPod touch. For iPads, you’re good if you have any iPad Pro, iPad Air 2 or more recent, iPad mini 4 or newer and iPad from fifth generation onwards.

Updating is easy. Go to the Settings app on the iPhone and under General, choose Software Update. Then it’s Download and finally, Install. It’s another small update, like iOS 14.4.1, so it won’t take long.

What’s in the update?

Like iOS 14.4.1, this is all about WebKit. Again, it’s because of active exploitation of an issue. The fact that it’s arrived so suddenly indicates it’s a problem that needs to be fixed and straight away. Apple says: “Impact: Processing maliciously crafted web content may lead to universal cross site scripting. Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited.” The fact that it’s been exploited already adds to the urgency.

It then goes on to explain that “This issue was addressed by improved management of object lifetimes.”

If you didn’t understand that, no worries, nor me. It’s explaining how Apple has sorted it (assuming it has) and I’d rather leave the details to Apple, wouldn’t you?

There’s also been an update for earlier iPhones, called iOS 12.5.2, which is for iPhone and iPad, indicating the issue has affected iPhones which aren’t able to be updated to iOS 14.

Is it a good idea to install iOS 14.4.2? The urgency sounds like you should, but I’ll leave the answer to that question to Gordon Kelly, who’ll be analyzing exactly that shortly.


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Read on for details of what was released in earlier updates.

Previous iOS 14 updates

iOS 14.4.1

This was released less than three weeks before iOS 14.4.2, on Monday, March 8. It was a small update with one function, to fix a vulnerability in WebKit to intercept malicious web content. Apple said it was a “memory corruption issue” that was being addressed.

iOS 14.4

Released on January 26, this update had many elements. HomePod mini handoff was improved, the set Wallpaper shortcut let you set the image to perspective zoom and there were changes to Accessibility settings with an extra way to control apps via VoiceOver. The camera can now handle smaller QR codes, too. You can also now classify Bluetooth audio devices. So, you can say whether they’re speakers, car stereos, headphones or hearing aids. There were also plenty of bug fixes.

iOS 14.3

Released December 14, 2020, 14.3 was a big release with plenty of new elements, such as support for the company’s latest hardware – AirPods Max – and the introduction of Fitness+. To use it, you need to have a compatible Apple Watch.

Photographers welcomed Apple ProRAW, which allows photos to be captured on the latest Pro versions of iPhone 12 in the new ProRAW format

Enhanced ECG capabilities for Apple Watch also arrived, in tandem with the latest watchOS update.

Privacy “nutrition labels” went live today in the App Store. Apps, including those from Apple, must display information indicating exactly what data is used to track you or to link to you. If you want to use the Ecosia search engine, that’s now an option.

iOS 14.2.1

This update landed on November 19, 2020 and was all about fixing issues. Messages had problems in group message threads, which this update sorted. An unresponsive lock screen and problems with Made for iPhone hearing devices were fixed in this update. This update was only for iPhone 12 models.

iOS 14.2

Released on November 5, 2020, this update brought over 100 brilliant new emoji, new wallpapers with light and dark mode versions, support for the upcoming iPhone 12 leather sleeve, and an improvement to HomePod and the upcoming HomePod mini’s new Intercom feature.

The original HomePod gained connectivity to the Apple TV 4K for stereo surround sound and Dolby Atmos audio.

The Magnifier app gained People Detection, using the LiDAR sensor included in iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max to reveal how far away people are. This is a real benefit for people with limited vision and is especially useful at a time when social distancing is important.

And now, AirPods battery charging is optimized for the first time, and there was a timely option to give statistics about Exposure Notifications, without identification, to Public Health Authorities. Plus, lots of bug-squishing.

iOS 14.1

This was released on October 20, 2020 and, like the next iOS update this one included stuff for the HomePod.

Other benefits are focused on fixes and bug squishes. For instance, it means there’s now support for 10-bit HDR video playback, applying to Photos for iPhone 8 and later. Issues with reduced-size icons, folders and widgets were addressed, along with other Home screen problems such as apps disappearing from folders when widgets were dragged was fixed. Mail issues, such as messages sent from an incorrect alias have been sorted. Incoming calls regional info that wasn’t working is now all fixed. Other issues included a screen redraw problem with an emergency call overlap, songs that wouldn’t download and a Calculator app issue were sorted

There were a couple of Apple Watch problems such as the iPhone not identifying the case material on your timepiece have been addressed.

iOS 14.0.1

Released on September 24, this update fixed an issue where the default browser and mail settings reset after restarting your iPhone, sorted an issue that prevented camera previews from displaying on, specifically, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus and a problem where the iPhone wouldn’t connect to wi-fi.

A problem sending emails with certain providers and images not appearing in the News widget, were also addressed.

iOS 14

The first version of iOS 14 was released on September 16, 2020.

The Home Screen added Widgets – smart app icons with changing information – on the home screen, revealed an App Gallery to help sort where your apps sit and added Compact Designs. These mean that Siri just sits at the bottom of the screen instead of taking it over completely while calls coming in will be announced just at the top of the screen.

App Clips are something completely new. If you need something an app delivers but really don’t have time to download the whole app, register, set up an account, verify your credentials and so on, then App Clips can help. They’ll work well with something like a parking app, say, when you’re next to the meter and short on time. Instead, you’ll scan the QR code, or tap the NFC tag, on the meter. App Clips downloads just the bit of the app you need and since you log in through Apple, all those things like payment details are sorted, too. This could be amazing as more apps come on stream.

The Messages app is now more capable, so you can now pin conversations you want to find easily at the top of the list, new Memoji options and better layouts for replies.

Maps has been improved, as on the Apple Watch, by the addition of cycle routes, routing for electric vehicles, edited guides to find new restaurants and more.

Translate is designed to make it easy to translate conversations in real time across 11 modes. You can even do this offline, which should save data costs when you’re traveling.

The Weather app can show you how much it’s going to rain in the next hour as well as advising on severe weather events.

New Accessibility features include Back Tap which lets you configure shortcuts when you tap on the back of the iPhone in a particular way.

AirPods Pro get in on the action, too, thanks to extra features which appear on the earbuds when your iPhone has moved to iOS 14. These include Spatial Audio so you can have a surround-sound effect as you watch a movie, say, and seamless device switching. More details here.

Here’s Apple’s security document for iOS 14.4.2.

WebKit

Available for: iPhone 6s and later, iPad Pro (all models), iPad Air 2 and later, iPad 5th generation and later, iPad mini 4 and later, and iPod touch (7th generation)

Impact: Processing maliciously crafted web content may lead to universal cross site scripting. Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited.

Description: This issue was addressed by improved management of object lifetimes.

CVE-2021-1879: Clement Lecigne of Google Threat Analysis Group and Billy Leonard of Google Threat Analysis Group.



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