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Crucial Apple Watch Update Released With Urgent Security Fixes


Apple updates follow a pattern. It releases iOS, iPadOS and watchOS updates simultaneously. Occasionally, there’s a latecomer to the party—like iPadOS 14.7 which came after iOS 14.7 last week—but what happened this week was different again.

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On Monday, Apple released iOS 14.7.1, alongside iPadOS 14.7.1 (well done, iPadOS, you got the invite and turned up on time this week). But it wasn’t until Thursday, July 29, that a watchOS update followed.

And that wasn’t the end of the differences: this update was all about Apple Watch security. Here’s how to get it and what’s in the update. Oh, and Apple says it’s urgent that you update to it. It’s a small update, under 60MB, so it shouldn’t take long.

How to get the update

You’re doubtless an old hand at this, but actually there may be a way to do it that you don’t know about.

There’s the familiar way: go to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, choose General and then Software Update. It’ll download the software to the iPhone and then, when the Watch is charged to at least 50%, on the charger and in range of the iPhone, it’ll install it. You can also update directly on the Watch itself, providing you’re on watchOS 6 or later. The Watch must be connected to wi-fi. Open the Settings app on the Watch, go to General and then Software Update. The Watch will download the update and, once it’s on the charger, it will install the update.

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What’s in the Update

While some other updates have focused on security updates alongside new features, this one is all about keeping your Watch safe.

It includes a fix for a memory issue which, Apple says, may have been actively exploited in the wild, making this urgent that Watch owners should update pronto. It’s the same security issue that was addressed for iPhone users with iOS 14.7.1, it just came a little later in the week.

Here’s what Apple said in its support document:

watchOS 7.6.1

Released July 29, 2021

IOMobileFrameBuffer

Available for: Apple Watch Series 3 and later

Impact: An application may be able to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges. Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited.

Description: A memory corruption issue was addressed with improved memory handling.

CVE-2021-30807: an anonymous researcher

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