Anyone who uses an iPhone has experienced the annoyance of re-updating their device within days of downloading a new operating system. The September 20 release of iOS 15.0 was no different. Before a month had elapsed, Apple had issued two emergency security updates for their latest software.
This is par for the Cupertino company. In 2021, Apple released over 20 updates for various models of their iPhone. So, what is the motivation behind these revisions? Is it safe to upload a new Apple iOS version when it comes out, or should you wait until all of the bugs are worked out? Are there security gaps on your phone? Read on to learn the answers to these questions and more.
What Happens During an iOS Security Update?
Apple usually provides a somewhat vague description of what each update does for your phone. The update is frequently to fix a bug or a glitch in one of the phone’s features, but there’s often a security aspect. However, according to their website, “Apple doesn’t disclose, discuss, or confirm security issues until an investigation has occurred and patches or releases are generally available.”
Hackers and malware creators are constantly trying to exploit vulnerabilities in existing systems, while software developers charged with system security are continuously analyzing security threats. When the latter identifies a new threat, they attempt to create patches that protect against the security breach. A security update will introduce this new code into your phone, protecting you against the most recent attacks.
The Importance of Updates
While it may be tempting to wait and see what happens with the new iOS before committing to it, this is a risky proposition from a security standpoint. A new iOS might have a few flashy features that you may be able to live without, but it also has the latest security features, which is also true with the interim updates.
Keeping your iPhone up to date is not only essential to its performance, but since updates frequently contain important security patches against known avenues of attack, it’s also crucial for its security. If your iPhone — or Android device for that matter — is not up to date, it becomes a target for hackers.
One 2017 study found that 90% of reported attacks were against vulnerabilities that developers had resolved over three years before. Most of them had actually been resolved as early as 2007. Updating software is paramount to protecting your device and information.
Is Apple Becoming Less Secure?
Apple has long prided itself as a company dedicated to security and privacy. Because of their walled system, they have not only been able to prevent companies like Facebook from mining data but have also been less vulnerable to viruses and cyber-attacks.
As the ubiquity of Apple devices has increased, however, hackers and malware developers seem to have redoubled their efforts to breach iOS operating systems. This could point to the reason why Apple iOS updates have become more frequent. Historically, nefarious parties have targeted the most popular platforms: Microsoft for computers and Android operating systems for cell phones. But now, Apple may be big enough to be worth the trouble.
Between Apple’s practice of not disclosing details of their security patches and the inherent silence of the hacking community, it may be difficult to determine why there have been so many calls for updates, but ignoring those updates may put your phone in jeopardy.