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iOS 14.4.2 security update is crucial for iPhones — here's why

iOS 14
(Image credit: Apple)

iOS 14.4.2 has been unleashed for iPhone users to rectify a security vulnerability. The highly anticipated iOS 14.5 update is right around the corner, but before Apple launches it, the Cupertino-based tech giant is patching a few security holes.

Apple also rolled out iPadOS 14.4.2 and iOS 12.5.2. Both address the same security concerns as iOS 14.4.2, but the former, of course, is for iPads and the latter patches older-generation Apple products such as the iPhone 5s.

Apple iOS 14.4.2 update released — here's why it's important

The iOS 14.4.2 update, according to Apple, issues an important security fix for WebKit. For the uninitiated, WebKit is a browser engine developed by Apple. It primarily powers the Safari web browser, but other iOS web browsers depend on WebKit, too.

The Cupertino-based giant admitted that a WebKit bug in iOS 14 could allow maliciously crafted web content to beget a universal cross-site scripting (XSS) attack. In layman's terms, an XSS attack occurs when a cybercriminal takes advantage of a webpage vulnerability and injects it with ill-intentioned code. This code can steal sensitive data, swipe users' credentials, snatch session cookies and more.

According to Positive Technologies, a cross-site scripting attack "can turn a web application or website into a vector for delivering malicious scripts to the web browsers of unsuspecting victims." XSS attacks typically target JavaScript code due to the language's tight integration with many browsers.

As such, Apple's iOS and iPadOS 14.4.2 updates are crucial for iPhone and iPad users who want to tighten their device's security against malicious actors. The vulnerability was thankfully discovered by Clement Lecigne and Billy Leonard of Google Threat Analysis Group.

The iOS 14.4.2 update is for iPhone 6s and newer. The iPadOS 14.4.2 patches the iPad Pro, iPad Air 2 and newer, the 5th-Gen iPad and later, the iPad mini 4 and newer, and the 7th-Gen iPod Touch. The iOS 12.5.2 update rectifies the iPhone 6 Plus and older as well as the iPad mini 2, the iPad mini 3 and the 6th-Gen iPod touch.

You can snag the iOS 14.4.2 update by tapping "Download and Install" after navigating to Settings > General > Software Update.

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!