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Operating Systems

Apple releases iOS 9.3.4 update to squash security bug

While resolving a flaw that could allow an attacker to execute code on your iOS device, the update also neuters the latest jailbreak to Apple's mobile OS.

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Apple's latest iOS update resolves another security flaw.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Apple's latest update to its iOS software fixes a security hole that could have been exploited to take control of your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

Released on Thursday, iOS 9.3.4 addresses the problem as one in which an "application may be able to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges," according to an Apple support page. That means an attacker could execute virtually any command, including one that would gain control of your iOS device.

iOS 9.3.4 fixes that vulnerability, the latest in a long line of flaws discovered since iOS 9 was released almost a year ago.

Yes, iOS 9 is approaching its first anniversary, and bugs are still being uncovered. That points to the difficulty in finding flaws that can affect any piece of software. Apple can do all the internal testing it wants. But many vulnerabilities remain undiscovered until users either stumble upon them or make a concerted effort to find them.

In this case, the flaw in iOS 9.3.3 was found and exploited by a Chinese jailbreaking team called Pangu. In late July, the Pangu team released a tool that allowed users to jailbreak their iOS devices. On its support page, Apple actually credited the folks at Pangu for discovering the flaw, serving as a not-so-subtle nod that iOS 9.3.4 also renders their new jailbreak ineffective.

Apple frowns upon jailbreaking, a process that allows you to bypass Apple's restrictions, thus letting you tap into certain features and install software not approved by the company.

Apple warns users that jailbreaking can leave their devices more susceptible to security vulnerabilities, a shorter battery life and the inability to install future updates, among other problems. Jailbreaking plays like a game of cat and mouse. Hackers attempt to jailbreak the latest version of iOS, which leads Apple to create an updated version closing the hole that allowed the jailbreak to work, prompting hackers to try to jailbreak the newest version.

Assuming no new bugs or jailbreaks arise with iOS 9.3.4, this is likely the last update to hit version 9.0. Apple is due to launch iOS 10 in September alongside its anticipated iPhone launch event.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.