iOS 14.4 Fixes Urgent Security Issues

published by Chand Bellur
January 27, 2021 at 3:38 p.m.
  • Apple’s newest iOS release patches security flaws in Safari and other browsers, preventing remote attackers from executing malicious code.
  • A race condition in the iOS kernel allows hackers to elevate permissions, giving malicious apps deeper access to Apple’s mobile operating system.
  • Apple admits that both vulnerabilities are actively exploited, with cybercriminals currently attacking iPhone users.
  • Given the active attacks against iOS, it’s best to update your iPhone as soon as possible.

iOS 14.4 Fixes Serious Security Issues

When a new version of iOS debuts, Appledystopia generally recommends waiting a few days. As Apple’s quality continues to erode, its new operating system releases often harbor annoying and counterproductive defects. Waiting a few days after a major or minor iOS release lets the die-hard Apple fanatics test the release while sparing the rational and patient device owner some hardships.

iOS 14.4 is different. If you own an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you should install this, or iPadOS 14.4, immediately. Apple’s newest mobile operating systems fix serious security flaws that are already known to cybercriminals. Using these weaknesses, they can remotely execute code and escalate privileges, giving them broad control over your device. Apple is aware that these attacks have already happened. Installing iOS 14.4 is an urgent necessity. Do not procrastinate on this one!

Updating your iPhone is simple. iOS or iPadOS will typically prompt you to update after a new version releases. If not, simply tap on Settings > General > Software Update and follow the instructions on the screen. If you’ve been updating your device regularly, the update process should be fairly quick.

The update is approximately 400 MB in size, which is quite large for a few security fixes. Looking over its new features, it’s clear that iOS 14.4 comprises minor bug fixes and some minimal new features. The update’s large size may be a necessity of fixing WebKit, which is Apple’s web browsing engine. As Apple disallows other web browsing engines, such as Chromium, WebKit is a fundamental framework for various web browsers, some embedded in the most popular apps.

Other iOS 14.4 Features

Beyond urgent security fixes, iOS 14.4 offers a few new features and addresses some minor defects. Apple’s newest mobile operating system provides new camera features, Bluetooth settings, and Notifications warning users about third-party repairs.

Apple, a company that actively lobbies against right-to-repair legislation, added code to detect non-Apple parts to iOS 14.4. When iPhone owners drop or damage their device, this sometimes breaks the camera. At some unauthorized third-party repair shops, the technicians often use cheaper, unofficial replacement parts. These may not perform as well as genuine Apple parts. With iOS 14.4, users see a warning if the camera isn’t registered in Apple’s System Configuration software: “Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple camera”. Apple already employs similar practices with displays and batteries.

iOS 14.4 delivers a modest camera update, with the ability to scan small QR codes. Users can now specify Bluetooth device types and how they interact with audio notifications.

iOS 14.4 alleviates relatively annoying keyboard defects. It also remedies a severe issue with image artifacts in iPhone 12 Pro HDR photos. Apple’s website provides more information on iOS 14.4, including a complete list of new features, bug fixes, and security remediations.

Install iOS 14.4 Immediately

Due to the severity of its security defects, users should update iOS as soon as possible. If you’re running anything older than iOS 14.4, your device is subject to remote hacking attacks. These security flaws are public, known, and actively exploited.

Unfortunately, iOS 14.4 may frighten some users who sought repair at unauthorized shops with messages warning of counterfeit parts. While the practice protects consumers from shady third-party warranties and repair shops, it also plagues the end-user with alarming feedback.

Although Apple contends that repairs aren’t profitable, others in the industry doubt this claim. Warranty repairs may reduce overall profitability, yet each uncovered repair seems to extract revenues far beyond all aggregated costs. This is partly why third-party repair shops exist in the first place. Even authorized ones using official parts can often beat Apple’s prices.

Most people won’t see messages about counterfeit iPhone cameras because this issue affects few users. I know many iPhone owners, and not one has replaced his, her, or their camera.

The notifications could indicate Apple’s continued momentum against the right-to-repair movement. Although warning end-users against counterfeit parts seems beneficial, technicians must validate these repairs with Apple’s new cloud-based System Configuration app. It’s possible a repair shop using an official Apple part could be flagged as counterfeit due to the lack of registration with this system. Apple’s new System Configuration tool negates the right-to-repair movement principle, as end-users are not permitted to use the app.

2 comments

  1. The only reason I agree with Apple’s policy is that it is now increasingly easy to embed spy/hack electronics into replacement parts, and there is at least one party -China, where a lot of aftermarket parts are made -who takes an active interest in doing so at a large scale. For all their shortcomings, I appreciate Apple preventing this. Samsung, Amazon and Huawei come to mind as firms who make electronics that spy on people, but there are many more instances of spyware, backdoors, hardcoded passwords etc. in all kinds of equipment , IoT being notorious as well.

    1. Good points, but Ed Snowden and Richard Stallman would disagree. I’m inclined to agree with them. The United States doesn’t have the best record on civil liberties and privacy. Just assume someone is watching, regardless of which platform you choose.

      My current phone is a OnePlus, made and designed in China. Apple builds their phones in China too. It’s entirely possible that a foreign government or our own CIA sneaks surveillance into our devices. I don’t think they stopped after the Snowden revelations. I have no proof, just a few centuries of American history. It’s how we roll… We talk freedom, liberty and privacy as we kill millions for oil, and spy on our own people and allies, such as Merkel. Other nations would do the same thing if they had the power.

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