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iPhone 15 Pro Max: It's better to install the update quickly

Photo: Matthias Kremp / DER SPIEGEL

Apple is serious about its warning: The company says it is aware of a report that there are security vulnerabilities in its operating systems for iPhones, iPads and Macs that could be actively exploited. This is stated in notes that Apple published on its website on Friday night. Updates to iOS 17.1.2 and iPadOS 17.1.2 as well as macOS Sonoma 14.1.2 are intended to plug these vulnerabilities.

According to the information, these are vulnerabilities in Apple's WebKit browser system, which serves as the basis for the Safari browser, among other things, but also for Apple's mail program, the App Store and all browsers on iPhones and iPads. Apple does not provide exact information on how exactly hackers could exploit the vulnerabilities. The company simply states that attackers could obtain confidential information in this way.

The zero-day exploits – the name given to security vulnerabilities that were not yet known to the manufacturers of the affected software – were discovered by Google's Threat Analysis Group. Findings from these security researchers and their colleagues at the Canadian Citizen Lab had recently already ensured that Apple had to issue security updates for that new operating system version a few days after the release of iOS 17.

Browsers also affected

Apparently, in order to protect users of older Mac operating systems from the vulnerability, Apple has also released an update of its Safari browser for macOS Monterey and macOS Ventura in addition to the updates for current operating systems.

But it's not just users of Apple devices who should install the latest updates. Even if you use the popular Chrome browser, you are encouraged to update it as soon as possible. As Google reports in its blog, the new version plugs a total of seven security holes. One of them is also a zero-day exploit with a threat level that is categorized as high.

How to install the updates

If the installation has not already been done automatically, you can initiate the update process manually. On iPhones and iPads, you can find the corresponding menu item in the settings under General/Software Update, on Macs in System Preferences also under General/Software Update.

To install the new software, the devices perform a reboot, which can take varying amounts of time depending on the model, but always a few minutes. Allow some time for this. Once installed, you will need to log in again with your password or code, and if necessary, re-enter your PIN code on devices with a SIM card.

Chrome updates can be accessed in the browser itself by clicking About Google Chrome in the Settings menu on Windows and Android. On Macs, this menu item is located directly in the menu bar, in the Chrome tab.