Apple pushes out significant security update amid China’s ban, spyware concerns

China’s ban has hit stock prices of Apple and its suppliers

Apple iPhone Representational image

Apple on Thursday released a significant security update for iPhones and iPads to patch newly discovered security vulnerabilities in the devices' system software.

The issue was discovered by researchers at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, who said the software flaw was being actively exploited to deliver commercial spyware called Pegasus, developed and sold by the Israeli company NSO Group.

Pegasus is an expensive tool typically used to target dissidents, journalists and political opponents, so ordinary users likely have little to fear. Still, Citizen Lab recommends that all users should “immediately" update their devices.

The security update comes amid reports of China banning American mobile phones for government employees in selected departments, and China is expected to extend the ban to other departments as well. The South China Morning Post reported China has barred staff in ministries focused on investment, trade and international affairs from using Apple iPhones. “The measures were understood to be aimed at eliminating perceived national security risks from using telecommunication devices made by a US company,” SCMP reported.

According to the report, staff in the ministries have time till the end of this month to change their mobile phones.

Reports on China’s move have hurt Apple stocks. Reuters reported that Apple shares tumbled 6.4 per cent over the last two days, wiping $190 billion from its market capitalisation. Shares of Apple suppliers also suffered a hit on Friday. “In Taipei, Apple supplier Largan Precision, which makes camera lenses, dropped more than 4 pc, while contract chipmaker TSMC fell 0.6 pc. China's Luxshare Precision Industry, maker of connector cables for the iPhone and MacBook, as well as AirPods, and owner of factories capable of making iPhones, fell 2 pc,” Reuters reported.

Installing new update 

To install the update, open Settings on your iPhone, then select General followed by Software Update. You should see the iOS 16.6.1 software update there; tap to begin the installation.

If you don't see the update, go back to the General page, then tap About to check your iOS version number. If it's 16.6.1, you already have the update installed. If your phone is still using 16.6 or an earlier version, repeat the above steps.

If you still don't see an update, try restarting your phone. If that doesn't make the update appear, double-check your internet connection and then wait a bit before trying again.

(With PTI inputs.)

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