How Apple’s fast security updates for iPhone & Co. work

Despite all efforts, manufacturers have to regularly update their operating systems in order to close known security gaps. Of course, this also applies to Apple users. In recent years, there have been some serious vulnerabilities in Apple products that attackers could use to hijack iPhones, iPads or Macs.

The perfidious thing about it: If a manufacturer closes a gap, the update will make it widely known at the latest. So it doesn’t take long before potential attackers have subjected the update to a binary analysis and reconstructed the security gap in question from the code of the update. Depending on the type of vulnerability, it is only a matter of time before suitable attack software is available. For you this means: As soon as an update is published, the clock starts ticking.

For years, Apple has always delivered security updates cumulatively as part of major system and feature updates. Leaner updates were only delivered in the case of particularly serious security gaps. But these were rare exceptions. The main reason: Operating systems such as macOS or iOS are so complex that even a small change can have an impact on many components and functions. The compilation and especially the testing of the update therefore takes a lot of time. There is a high risk that an update will cause a bug on millions of devices, and the effort involved in having to withdraw a faulty update should not be underestimated.

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