Apple has made iOS 16.6.1 available to download for supported iPhones, alongside updates for its other devices. It’s an important security update that you should download right away, as it fixes an exploit that allowed ‘Pegasus’ spyware to take control of your device.
According to AppleInsider, Pegasus could take control of an iPhone on iOS 16 and below through an exploit in the Wallet app. By sending an image through iMessage, this would allow someone to steal important data that would bypass any passcodes found on an iPhone.
A group called BLASTPASS (via CitizenLab) discovered this exploit, and they promptly sent their findings to Apple, which has led to these updates being rolled out.
You can install these by going to Settings > General > Software Update to check if it’s available for your device.
Don’t make the same mistake I almost did — iMore’s take
It’s scary to think that an application was able to exploit your iPhone before this software update was made available. We all carry some kind of sensitive data on our devices, whether that’s private images or riskily storing bank details in the Notes app. Maybe that last one is just me…But! We’ve almost certainly each got something sensitive on our phones that could be locked down more securely.
It’s always important to have the basics enabled on your devices regardless. Making sure your iPhone has the latest software update installed is a start. But setting a password with more than eight characters, while making sure you’re the only one who has access to your iPhone, can keep potential hackers away. And I can attest to this.
A few years back I was out with friends and randomly received an approval prompt from someone in China. This meant that someone had found out my password, which, in the wrong hands, could have taken all of my private information in one swoop.
Fortunately, that’s been the only time I’ve had this experience, but once was enough for me to rethink how I protect my devices. I now change my passwords every couple of months to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
It’s situations like these where features like Lockdown Mode can be really helpful too. With it activated, apps like iMessage and FaceTime are restricted, and shared content like Albums are removed. This can really help if you think your device has been compromised, and it gives you a better sense of security.
So if you don’t have a passcode installed or you have a very basic password, I strongly recommend changing this mindset before the inevitable happens, as it almost did to me.