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Security & privacy

Update your iPhone, iPad and Mac! New patch fixes nasty Safari issue

You’d like to think your browser prioritizes privacy. Unfortunately, sometimes our search providers let us down. Tap or click here to take a free, fast test that reveals how much private data our browser is leaking.

Last week, security researchers discovered that Apple’s Safari browser could leak your data to websites you visit. It all comes down to an implementation bug in IndexedDB, designed to hold user data.

Put simply, the bug lets websites see databases they shouldn’t. It also lets them search those databases for information like your browsing history, personal data and even your Google avatar. Luckily, Apple released a new update that fixes this privacy-endangering bug.

Patch the bug ASAP

Don’t wait to update. There’s a lot of personal information at risk. Not only is this bug an invasion of your privacy, but it also lets hackers see your browsing activity in real-time.

If you want to go into the weeds and get a technical understanding of how this works, check out this short video from FingerprintJS, the folks who blew the whistle on Jan. 14.

Fun fact: Someone reported the issue to the WebKit Bug Tracker on Nov. 28, 2021. Apple didn’t take action until Jan. 16 — after FingerprintJS shone a spotlight on the issue. (How curious.)

You can even run a quick test to see the problem in action

Head to Safari Leaks and see if the site can grab your Google User ID. You can even check out one of its test websites in a new tab. Return to the site and you’ll see that browsing history. It can be creepy to see the surveillance in real-time.

RELATED: Is someone spying on your cellphone?

Typically, this shouldn’t be possible. When Safari is working correctly, Safari Leaks would have no way to find this information. That’s because sites are only supposed to access data from their databases. (Or to be super technical, databases its domain created.)

How to fix the bug

To protect yourself, update your Apple devices. Apple released a few updates:

  • iPhone: iOS 15.3
  • iPad: iPadOS 15.3
  • Mac: macOS 12.2
  • Apple Watch: watchOS 8.4

Install the latest OS onto whichever Apple device you’re using. To do this, follow these steps:

How to update iPhone, iPad or iPad touch

  • Open Settings.
  • Tap General.
  • Select Software Update.
  • Tap Install Now.

Instead of Install Now, you might see Download and Install. If so, select that option to download the update. Then, enter your passcode and select Install Now.

How to update macOS

  • Click on the Apple menu in the corner of your screen.
  • Select System Preferences.
  • Click Software Update.
  • Select Update Now.

How to update Apple Watch

  • Open Settings on your Apple Watch.
  • Tap General.
  • Tap Software Update.
  • Tap Install.
  • Tap OK.
  • Open the Watch app on your iPhone and agree to the Terms & Conditions.
  • On your Apple Watch, tap Download & Install.

Good news: You’re doing a lot of good when you download the update. Not only are you fixing this bug, but you’re also downloading security updates for iCloud, Crash Reporter, ColorSync and more. Here’s the complete list of updates you’re getting when you download iOS 15.3.

Read more

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