2021 has started off well – with not one, but three different iPad and iPhone security flaws that may have been exploited by hackers. Apple hasn’t been too generous with details about the exploits, but we’ll do our best to bring you up to speed. In the meantime, remember to install the latest iOS update to prevent any potential damage.
It’s also a good idea to supplement this update with a more comprehensive security solution, such as an iPhone VPN. In just a couple of taps, these apps encrypt your network data and make it virtually impossible for hackers or any outsiders to see what you’re up to online. You can see more about them here, including ten different top-of-the-line iOS VPN providers.
With that out of the way, let’s get into the main topic.
What’s the Deal with the iOS 14.3 Security Flaws?
As mentioned, details are scarce about the vulnerabilities that were fixed in iOS 14.4. First off, we should mention that they affect the following devices:
- All iPhone models starting with iPhone 6S
- iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4 and subsequent models
- iPod Touch (7th gen)
What we currently know is that one of them affects the operating system’s kernel (its core, essentially). Apple mentions that “a malicious application may be able to elevate privileges.” Basically, any malicious app could use the exploit to do things beyond what it normally should. Imagine a basic video game you use to kill time being able to access your contact info, login details, payment data and more. What’s worse, none of Apple’s built-in security protections could do anything to prevent it.
The other issue affected WebKit, the browser engine used by Safari. According to the support document provided by apple, “a remote attacker may be able to cause arbitrary code execution.” In plain English, a hacker may take control of your phone just because you accessed a malicious website. Such attacks usually happen when you actively click or tap on suspicious email attachments and files online.
It’s interesting to note that Apple rarely discloses when users have been directly affected by security exploits. What we don’t know is whether Apple fixed the issues before they could become a widespread problem. All you can do now is update to iOS 14.4 and wait for further updates from the tech giant.
What Can I Do to Secure My iPhone or iPad?
Apple does a pretty good job at protecting the privacy and security of its users – as long as you stay up-to-date with security patches. However, you can still go one step beyond and use an iOS VPN to secure your data. As mentioned in the beginning, VPNs encrypt your network data – scramble it using complex algorithms, essentially.
This makes things like your browsing history, Internet app usage, and any sensitive data you input online unreadable to third parties. Hackers, government surveillance agencies, even Internet providers.
They’re especially useful on public Wi-Fi, as any run-of-the-mill hacker can harvest data from unsecured networks. You could also fall for an “Evil Twin” attack, a fake hotspot that mimics the original. Once you’re connected, an attacker can easily access your sensitive info. Unless you use a VPN to safely transport your data, that is.
Otherwise, the only thing you can do is avoid opening any suspicious links or email attachments. Most “hacking” nowadays has nothing in common with what you might see in a thriller movie. Instead, cyber attackers lure in victims with phishing attacks, fraudulent emails and fake websites designed to get people to give up their own data.
One useful piece of advice is to bookmark websites such as PayPal, your banking app, and any such services that require you to input sensitive data. Accessing them through your bookmarks ensures that you never click on the “wrong” link and get sent to a fake website.