The newly-released iOS 15.7.9, macOS Monterey 12.6.9 and iPadOS 15.7.9 are intended to protect older computers from hackers, including those using the Pegasus spyware.
Apple recently introduced security patches for newer versions of these operating systems to close the same security vulnerability.
Apple releases security patches for older computers
Apple releases new versions of its operating systems for iPhone, iPad and Mac models for about five years after their launch. Even after that, it provides security patches for older computers.
iOS 15.7.9, macOS Monterey 12.6.9 and iPadOS 15.7.9 are examples. Apple even introduced macOS Big Sur 11.7.10 on Monday, too.
The iOS and iPadOS updates are for iPhone 6s (all models), iPhone 7 (all models), iPhone SE (1st generation), iPad Air 2, iPad mini (4th generation), and iPod touch (7th generation). These devices launched so many years ago they can’t upgrade to iOS 16.x or the iPadOS equivalent.
All the security patches that Apple released Monday take care of the same vulnerability: “Processing a maliciously crafted image may lead to arbitrary code execution,” according to Apple’s description.
This is a severe problem because all that’s necessary for an iPhone to be vulnerable to the NSO Group’s Pegasus mercenary spyware is to display one of these specially made images received in a text message.
Apple released iOS 16.6.1, macOS 13.5.2, and iPadOS 16.6.1 on September 7 to close the security hole on newer computers.
And Pegasus isn’t the only potential problem. Macs can be hacked through this vulnerability, too. But closing the door to hackers is as simple as installing one of the new operating system versions.
How to install iOS 15.7.9, macOS Monterey 12.6.9 and iPadOS 15.7.9
iPhone and iPad users can install the new iOS and iPadOS versions directly by opening the Settings app and going to General > Software Update. Alternatively, you can update your devices by connecting them to a Mac (or to a PC running iTunes).
To download the macOS Monterey or Big Sur update, go to Apple menu > About This Mac. Then click Software Update. Alternatively, you can install the new version from the App Store. (Note: At the time of this writing, Apple had not yet updated the version of macOS in the App Store. But it should happen soon.)