Apple security updates: a sign of things to come

Apple security updates: a sign of things to come
Apple security updates: a sign of things to come

While Patch Tuesday is a well-known event for Microsoft and Adobe users, Apple product owners this week received a dose of reality when they found themselves on the receiving end of several security updates.

Apple released multiple updates that touch most of its product portfolio and Apple fans can look forward to more of the same as the company's devices are targeted by cybercriminals, according to Symantec blogger and senior information developer Dick O'Brien. While the number of threats is miniscule compared to what Microsoft, Google and Adobe users face, they are increasing.

“The number of new Mac OS X threats rose by 15 percent in 2014, while the number of iOS threats discovered this year has more than doubled, from three in 2014 to seven so far in 2015. Jailbroken devices are the focus of the majority of threats and, of the 13 iOS threats documented by Symantec to date, nine can only infect jailbroken devices,” O'Brien wrote.

The threats are coming from both cybercrime gangs using their older tools to hit Apple to hackers such as the Butterfly corporate espionage and Operation Pawnstorm APTgroups developing new, customized Mac OS X and iOS malware.

This is leading to a change in the primary type of problem being seen on Macs. Symantec noted that between June 2014 and March 2015 most infections were from grayware delivering annoying, but more or less benign PUA, adware and misleading applicatios. However this has since transitioned to malware bringing in back doors, information stealers and Trojans.

O'Brien noted that some instances the device owners are their own worst enemy by buying jailbroken phones, which have a risk level four times higher than a non-jailbroken phone.

“Jailbroken devices present more opportunities for compromise and many threats are designed to take advantage of jailbroken phones. Of the 13 iOS threats documented by Symantec to date, nine can only infect jailbroken devices,” he said.

The Apple updates cover a wide variety of vulnerabilities a few of which could have enabled someone to execute code with full system rights or kernel privileges. The updates are:

  • iOS 9.2 for iPhone 4s and later, iPod touch (5th generation) and later, iPad 2 and later
  • tvOS 9.1 for Apple TV (4th generation)
  • OS X El Capitan 10.11.2 and Security Update 2015-008 for OS X Mavericks v10.9.5, OS X Yosemite v10.10.5, OS X El Capitan v10.11 and v10.11.1
  • watchOS 2.1 for Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch, Apple Watch Edition, and Apple Watch Hermes
  • Safari 9.0.2 for OS X Mavericks v10.9.5, OS X Yosemite v10.10.5, OS X El Capitan v10.11 and v10.11.1
  • Xcode 7.2 for OS X Yosemite v10.10.5 or later
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