Users of iPhone and other Apple devices have been told to update to a new operating system rushed out by the firm to overcome a potential risk of hacking.
The move comes after tech security company Cisco Talos highlighted a loophole in the iOS operating systems used by Apple gadgets. It meant that hackers could get through security controls by attaching malicious code to images sent by text message, links in malicious web pages, or other applications that use Apple software to process such files.
“It would be a malicious file embedded in something like a picture in TIFF or other format, or sent directly to your phone by message if they had your number. Some files are automatically processed by devices even if the user is only seeing a preview without opening it,” said Urban Schrott, IT security analyst with ESET Ireland.
He said the kind of attacks that could potentially be used in this way include accessing passwords, obtaining information by activating a device’s camera or microphone remotely, or locking a phone or tablet and demanding ransom to unlock it.
Apple has now released the new iOS 9.3.3 software which has fixed the loophole that could have been used by hackers to breach user security.
Mr Schrott said the latest security issue was very similar to an issue identified for Android devices last year, and highlights how hackers are increasingly targeting mobile phones.
“People use their phones now for pretty much everything they used to do on their computers, but don’t seem to have the same level of anti-virus protection, if any, for them as they do for their laptops,” he said.
Apart from the option of buying protection, Mr Schrott said it is important to keep phones updated to the latest operating systems to ensure they have the benefit of the most recent security features from device manufacturers.
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