When Apple unveiled its latest operating system iOS 15 in September 2021 they were keen to announce that it was not a mandatory update and that users who wanted to stick with iOS 14 would continue to be supported. They said that the new system would be offered to all devices that could run it but that they would continue to supply security upgrades for iOS 14. However, they seemed to have changed their tune and 9to5Mac has revealed that new security updates are only being offered for their most recent operating system. This means that people who were happy with the stability and performance of the older system could now be vulnerable to hackers and phishing scams.
Tech manufacturers have always been updating their operating systems to improve the functionality, security, and visual appeal of their phones and computers. A cynic might say that it also ensures built-in obsolescence of older models when upgrades are not available across all products. The big names have been keen to counter this accusation over recent years ensuring older operating systems are also kept up to date with retrofit patches. When the updates are no longer available, it always causes upset amongst users, who feel they are being made to trade up to a newer, more expensive model.
Apple seems to have moved swiftly from saying that iOS 14 would continue to be supported to the fact that it no longer would be, pointing out that its original statement did say updates would only be available for a ‘period of time‘. They just didn’t specify that period.
It was estimated in December 2021 that 36% of the more than one billion iPhones in circulation globally were running iOS 14. No iPhone models that predate the iPhone 6S or 7th generation iPods, can run iOS 15, leaving many users susceptible to attack.
We use our smartphones for everything from paying for our groceries in-store and online, to social media interactions, managing our insurance, gaming, gambling, and learning languages. Even if we don’t have financial information stored on our phones, our data is valuable to anyone who would like to know more about us or sell or mis-sell us their products. There are many ways to look out for scams but having automatic security updates on our phones is by far the easiest way to avoid the risks.
For those people who do use their phones for financial transactions, then online security is of utmost importance. A good example of this is the security you have to go through when using your online banking app. Most bank and payment apps require two-stage authentication either by facial recognition or additional PIN requirements before payments can be made. If you are gaming or gambling online, you will need to have set up an account with payment details before downloading the latest version of your game or trying out your fortunes on the latest slot sites. If your iOS is no longer having security updates, your payment details may no longer be secure, and it is important to consider upgrading. The cost of not doing so could easily outweigh the initial investment in a newer handset if you find yourself scammed in the future.
How to keep your device safe
For peace of mind, you can set your device to install updates automatically. This will normally happen overnight and only if the phone is plugged into a power source. You will receive a notification in advance that this is going to happen.
You can check if your software is up to date by going to the settings app on your phone and clicking on “General”. If you go to Software update you will be able to turn ‘Automatic Updates’ on or off. You can also see which iOS is installed and whether or not it is up to date. If it is not, you will be given an option to “Install It Now” to get it. Before you do this, make sure that your phone is backed up and connected to WIFI.