Apple releases iOS update to patch Spectre chip flaw

The latest version of the iPhone operating system addresses a major flaw in the processor that could leak sensitive information.

Laura Hautala Former Senior Writer
Laura wrote about e-commerce and Amazon, and she occasionally covered cool science topics. Previously, she broke down cybersecurity and privacy issues for CNET readers. Laura is based in Tacoma, Washington, and was into sourdough before the pandemic.
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Laura Hautala
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Apple on Monday released an update to iOS, the software that runs iPhones and iPads, that fixes a major problem that haunted the processors in those devices. 

The flaw, dubbed Spectre by the researchers who found it, made the silicon chips vulnerable to a hacking attack that could reveal secret information your devices normally keep locked down.

The update comes less than a week after news broke that chips made by Intel, ARM and AMD contained the flaw. Researchers also found that most Intel chips have a second variation of the vulnerability, called Meltdown. The revelation of the flaws has been followed by a flurry of announcements by chip-makers, computer manufacturers and cloud service providers reassuring customers that they are finding ways to prevent hackers from using them.

Both flaws let attackers take advantage of a design flaw that temporarily makes sensitive information like passwords and encryption keys more easy to steal. For the attack to work, hackers need to install malicious software onto your device before taking advantage of the flaws.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said going forward, the company will make chips that don't have the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. For the hundreds of millions of devices in the world that contain the flawed chips, software updates like the one released by Apple will be the next best thing.