One of the benefits of being a longtime Apple user is that there were rarely as many viruses and bugs affecting Mac and associated products as there were for Windows. This is no doubt thanks to the more widespread use and ease of exploitation of Windows machines. But one thing that can cause serious problems without the intervention of hackers and viral perpetrators is a big giant hole in the security of an operating system. That is exactly what Apple has in its newest OS.
Apple discovered the flaw in its iOS (mobile, tablet) and OS Mavericks (desktop) systems recently and released a patch for the iOS version, though it has yet to offer the same for the desktop version. The hole is related to a type of code commonly used by programmers to send information from one website to another referred to as a "goto" call. It isn't as widely used as more secure and sophisticated code, but it does exist.
The hole allows outside users to gain access to your apps and information. As Dwight Silverman of the Houston Chronicle explains:
In other words, anything you send across the Internet could be intercepted or changed. Your communications are compromised without the patch.
Most of us tend to ignore software updates for extended periods of time. This is not the time to do that.
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The good news is that it is a quick and easy fix. I did mine Monday morning and the whole process took about five minutes with two touches.
The next question is when this patch will come to the desktop OS. At present, I have yet to begin running Mavericks on my primary computer, so I am not vulnerable to the flaw. You can check your own machine by going to this link to see if you are affected.
Until then, the problem is mainly through Safari, so you can avoid it using Chrome or Firefox, but you should absolutely not delay on your phone or iPad. The exploit could allow another user to get into your phonebook or any number of other apps on your phone.
Just tap settings > general > software update and install it. The app you save might just be your own.