UPDATE: TechCrunch reported on the 2nd Sept that this exploit was designed to target Uyghur Muslims in China. However, the overall message of this article remains the same.
Over the weekend (30-31 August 2019) the tech papers were flooded with reports of “hundreds of thousands of iPhones hacked” and “biggest breach of iOS ever”.
For a change this story was not sensationalist or out right fake but it was a little misleading.
It was also a massive wake up call. But more on that later.
Let us start with what the hack actually is. Put simply, google discovered that a few hundred websites had been hacked and malicious instructions was inserted in to their code to deliver malware to your iPhone. This malware was practically (if not completely) undetectable and is designed to steal passwords, sensitive data, photos and so on. It is a big deal. What is more, this malware was delivered simply by visiting the websites in question… no other work on your part was necessary. When it comes to exploits this is pretty scary.
However, what is less clear, are the websites in question. No list has been published so it is very hard to tell if an ordinary person is likely to have visited these sites. It could be that it was a collection of porn sites dedicated to the sexual adventures of koala bears. Then again it might have been the ATO website. No one, so far as I can tell, is saying.
So what can you do? Well, first of all let’s hope you don’t have a thing for Koala bears or tax returns but more importantly (and this is the wake up call I mentioned ) you need to make sure that your device is up to date.
I have mentioned this many times before, that the only real defence against this kind of thing is to remain up to date. And unfortunately if that means replacing an old device that cannot be updated to the latest OS… that is the world we live in. Sadly.
On your iPhone or iPad install the latest by doing the following:
- Tap on Settings
- Tap on About and the Software version should be 12.4.1. If not…
- Tap on General
- Tap on Software Update.
- If it says you are Up to Date this means your device is limited to that old release and you are at risk.
Your Mac should be running at least 10.13.6 if it is then you have at least 12 more months of security updates. If you have anything earlier I would seriously consider replacing your Mac and have your data transferred safely. We can help you with that.
- Click on the Apple menu.
- Choose About this Mac.
- Click on Software Updates
- Install anything available.
Like you I wish nothing but harm and misery to the people that do these kinds of things that make the world scary and more complicated than it needs to be. But sadly, until another way is found this is the only defence we have.