Apple released surprise software updates for iPhones, iPads and Macs on Wednesday that fix two security vulnerabilities known by Apple to be actively exploited by attackers.
The two vulnerabilities were found in WebKit, the browser engine that powers Safari and other apps, and the kernel, essentially the core of the operating system. The two flaws affect both iOS and iPadOS and macOS Monterey.
Apple said the WebKit bug could be exploited if a vulnerable device accessed or processed “maliciously crafted web content [that] may lead to arbitrary code execution,” while the second bug allowed a malicious application “to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges,” which means full access to the device. The two flaws are believed to be related.
Some successful exploits, such as powerful nation-state spyware, use two or more vulnerabilities in conjunction to break through a device’s layers of protections. It’s not uncommon for attackers to first target a vulnerability in the device’s browser as a way to break into the wider operating system, granting the attacker wide access to the user’s sensitive data.
Apple said iPhone 6s models and later, iPad Air 2 and later, iPad 5th generation and later, iPad mini 4 and later, and iPod touch (7th generation), and all iPad Pro models are affected.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment.