Patch wave after the holiday weekend: Apple has equipped some devices with new firmware this week. The reason for this was apparently also security gaps in their implementation of the Bluetooth protocol, as has now become known.
AirPods and Beats on a new level
All current audio devices from Apple have been updated – plus several older models. AirPods 2 and AirPods 3, AirPods Pro 1 and AirPods Pro 2 and the over-ear headphones AirPods Max each received the new system software 5E135. The previous version 5E133 was distributed in April. Apple also followed up with the Beats products, but there were only updates for the Powerbeats Pro and the Beats Fit Pro. Apple has apparently saved an update for the Studio Buds, which will soon be released in a new version.
Apple does not provide any information about the content of the updates. However, at least for the AirPods there is a directory that names the current version. The update isn’t easy: you should first listen to an Apple Music song on an iPhone for about a minute, then put the plugs in their case (the AirPods Max in the case) and then plug in the devices. The update cannot be triggered manually in any other way. The version can be queried via the system settings.
Vulnerabilities – and news from MagSafe Charger
In the meantime, however, Apple has made at least one statement about the updates: The Beats firmware update 5B66 and the AirPods firmware update 5E133 are listed on its security updates website, which publishes security-related details. The problem is described as follows: “If your headphones make a connection request to one of your previously paired devices, an attacker within Bluetooth range could spoof the intended source device and gain access to your headphones.” The bug, which was fixed by improved authentication, was discovered by the Google ChromeOS team, as Apple continues to write. What exactly “access to the headphones” means remains unclear – but it sounds as if the attacker could then send desired sounds to the audio devices.
In addition to the new firmware versions for Beats products and AirPods, Apple has also published an update for its MagSafe charger for iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods. The MagSafe Charger, which can be used from iPhone 12, now reaches version 10M1821. In the settings this is called version 258.0.0. Apple hasn’t published a leaflet, the update is done “over the air” without being able to initiate it specifically. It might help to hang up an Apple device while the MagSafe Charger is plugged into the power adapter.