updated its desktop operating system, OS X, Apple is doing the same for its iOS mobile operating system.
The company on Tuesday released iOS 6.1.3. The update weighs in at a mere 18.2 MB. It can be downloaded directly to an iOS device from the Settings/General/Software Update menu or through iTunes. It is mainly intended to fix a security flaw that made it possible to bypass the passcode screen.
Exploiting the flaw requires some manual dexterity and a call made to emergency services (911) that's immediately cancelled -- perhaps not the best number for a law breaker to call. Doing so provides access to the device's contacts, voicemail and photos, but not to the rest of the apps on the device. However, anyone able to try this exploit presumably has control of the device in question and could employ other tools that can access data on mobile devices, locked or not.
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There may be other security fixes as well, but Apple has been slow to update its security updates page, through which it distributes security patch information.
Several hours after iOS 6.1.3 was released, while this story was being written, Apple finally published a link pointing to information about the security content of the update. But the link -- http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5701 -- did not point to any published content. Shortly thereafter, the broken link was removed. It's likely that by the time this article is published, Apple will have repaired the broken link.
The update also includes improvements to Apple's Maps app for Japan. Apple has been improving its cartographic data more broadly since it revised its Maps app (and was roundly criticized for it) last September. Last month, the company expanded its effort to hire engineers to improve Maps.
A link to a new Apple TV update, Apple TV 5.2.1, was also removed from Apple's security updates page, though the linked page continues to be accessible. It describes fixes for three security flaws affecting Apple TV units: CVE-2013-0977, CVE-2013-0978 and CVE-2013-0981.
The first involves a state management flaw that has to do with the way Mach-O executable files with overlapping segments are handled, a vulnerability that could be exploited to allow unsigned code. The second involves an information disclosure flaw in the ARM prefetch abort handler that could allow a local user to access the address of structures in the kernel. The third involves an IOUSBDeviceFamily driver that didn't adequately validate pipe object pointers, allowing the possibility of arbitrary code execution.