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Apple issues urgent security patch for iOS — update your iPhone now

A blue iPhone 13 held in front of green foliage
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

All the iPhone and iPad owners out there need to update their devices to the latest version as soon as possible. The launch of iOS 15.3.1 and iPadOS 15.3.1 has a lot of changes, but its most notable is a patch that fixes a serious security flaw, the kind that you don’t want any bad actors to exploit.

The vulnerability in question is in WebKit, the rendering engine used by Safari and all other browsers that run on iOS, and the flaw can allow hackers to create new websites capable of executing code the user isn’t aware of. 

Apple itself notes that there are reports this bug may have already been exploited — so it’s not something that was discovered by a security researcher and fixed before anything went wrong.

That makes it extra important for you to update your device right now. It’s the only way to be sure you’re safe from any of these attacks. The good news is it should already be waiting in the software update menu, waiting to be downloaded — as it was on my iPad and iPhone 12.

Here’s how to check for yourself:

1. Open the Settings app.
2. Select General > Software Update.
3. Hit Download and Install.
4. Enter your passcode and agree to any terms and conditions that pop up
5. Once downloaded hit Install Now. Make sure your device has at least 50% of its battery, or is plugged into a power supply, otherwise the option will be grayed out.
6. Wait for your device to restart.
7. One restarted, your device will confirm the update was successful, leaving you to go about your day.

It’s worth checking even if you have automatic updates activated. Both my devices were set up that way, but I still had to toggle the update manually. It may take a while to sort out, depending on when you last updated your device. 

So be sure to plug your phone into a power supply, especially if you’re under 50% power, and find something else to occupy yourself with in the meantime. It’s a great opportunity to do that work you’ve been procrastinating on since yesterday.

On a less serious note, the update also fixes an issue that might have caused Braille displays to “stop working.” While that fix will only affect a relatively small group of people, it’s still important.

If you've got a Mac, you'll also need to update macOS Monterey to version 12.2.1, and Safari on the two previous versions of macOS. On Big Sur, Safari needs to be updated to version 16612.4.9.1.8, and on Catalina, version 15612.4.9.1.8.

Tom Pritchard
Tom Pritchard

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.