If you take a peek behind the curtain of the big keynote presentations, you will quickly learn that Apple recently fixed its eighth zero-day used to hack iPhones and Macs. So it's time to retire the myth that Apple products are immune to viruses and malware, but what does this mean for users?
Over the last few days, excited iOS users have been sharing their new personalized lock screen on their iPhones after downloading the latest operating system. By contrast, many will admit to skipping security update prompts in the months ahead. But this lax attitude toward security must change as the ecosystem becomes a target for attackers.
Once thought to be virus-proof, Apple has released eight patches this year, and the tech giant has also broken its update policy by committing to securing older iPhones and iPads against zero-day. The fact that it's been four years since Apple patched an end-of-life device against a vulnerability should be a wake-up call for users to take the security of their smartphones more seriously.
Why you need to stop delaying your device updates
Most people use their smartphones to manage almost every aspect of their lives. Prominent examples are sending messages and documents, checking finances, and storing credit or debit card information. The idea of a friend or loved one accessing your phone is enough to bring almost anyone out in a cold sweat. But poor cyber hygiene could allow bad actors to access all your information, along with your photos, location, and contact lists. In some instances, attackers can even access your device's microphone or camera.
Despite smartphones having an intimate knowledge of every owner, many users still have a blasé attitude to securing the most used device in their life. But like a laptop, your smartphone is a portable computer that requires constant software updates that fix vulnerabilities under the hood while also improving performance.
A failure to manage the storage or perform regular backups on a smartphone will often complicate the process. For the most part, Apple users famously repeat the mantra, " I just want it to work," and find software updates both frustrating and inconvenient. However, securing your Apple devices is much easier than you might think.
How to keep your Apple devices updated
If you finish your day by leaving your smartphone on charge overnight, turning on automatic updates will be the easiest way to keep your device updated. By simply navigating to Go Settings > General > Software Update, your Apple device will automatically update to the latest iOS or iPadOS. But most importantly, you should also select the Rapid Security Responses option to automatically apply updates to protect your device before its added to future software versions.
How to optimize storage on your iPhone or iPad
However, some updates will ask for authorization to be installed manually, and this is where you could encounter a few issues with backups or storage. If you do find yourself in this situation, Go to Settings > General > Device Storage to check recommendations for how you can optimize your device's storage. For example, you can identify what is eating up the storage on your device and choose to offload unused apps, review large attachments or clear the cache on apps that are storing too much data.
How to back up your iPhone or iPad
If you lost your device or an update went wrong, how would you feel if you lost every photo or video you have captured over the last fifteen years? Is there any other information stored on your devices that you cannot live without? With your storage looking much healthier, you should consider backing up your device to protect your data should the unthinkable happen.
Apple allows you to use iCloud or your computer to back up everything that matters to you. Considering most people store their entire life on their phones, choosing iCloud storage to automatically update everything at the cost of £0.79 a month for 50 GB of storage or £2.49 a month for 200 GB will be worth it for the convenience alone. But if the principle of paying even more money goes against everything you believe, backing up to a computer might be the better option.
How to manually update your Apple devices
Once you have optimised the storage on your device and have a recent backup in place, you can safely move forward to perform a manual software update. Before you begin, ensure the device you want to update is plugged in and connected to Wi-Fi. Now navigate to Settings > General, tap Software Update, and choose the update or patch you want to install.
As a rule, many users prefer manually downloading new operating systems, such as the new iOS 16, after waiting to hear about any community complaints around bugs or performance issues. But whether you choose to dive in as an early adopter or wait a few weeks will depend on your personal preferences. But all parties will agree on the need to download Rapid Security Responses automatically.
Secure every device
Keeping your software up to date on your iPhones, iPads, and Macs is one of the most important things you can do to prevent your devices from being actively exploited by attackers. However, before you get complacent or self-congratulatory, you will need this same proactive security approach towards every connected product in your life.
Everything in your home that has an always-online connection, including your router, will require regular updates or patches to keep you safe. We have all been sold a utopian vision of a smart home where IoT devices deliver personalized lighting and entertainment or are even automatically heated when we leave the office. But when the firmware updates stop, many are unaware of how their devices could betray them.
Long after the appeal of iOS 16 has worn off, try to resist the temptation of skipping the next security update that appears on not just your Apple products but any connected device.
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