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Apple rolls out first public Rapid Security Response update

Apple rolled out its first public Rapid Security Response update today. (Image: own)
Apple rolled out its first public Rapid Security Response update today. (Image: own)
First announced last summer at WWDC, Apple is rolling out the first publicly available Rapid Security Response update for iOS and macOS. While details concerning what the security update patches are not yet known, this marks the first instance of Apple pushing a minor system update focused only on security.

Patching security issues in iOS has been an issue since its inception. Due to the way iOS's file system is structured, a security patch generally requires a larger update to resign core files. At WWDC last summer, Apple announced a new plan to tackle this problem: Rapid Security Response (RSR) updates. Today marks the first public rollout of an RSR update for the latest versions of iOS and macOS.

The RSR update is currently rolling out to users running iOS 16.4.1 (for iPhones) or macOS 13.3.1 (for Macbooks and other Apple PCs). This will update the system to 16.4.1(a) and 13.3.1(a), respectively. Apple has rolled out RSR updates to beta testers over the past year, but today's update is the first RSR pushed to all users.

It's currently unclear what prompted Apple to push this RSR update as the update notes don't mention any specifics. RSR updates are designed to patch security holes in Apple's operating systems or core software, including Webkit (which powers Safari and some other related apps). 

The transition to RSR updates comes with a few benefits. Primarily, Apple no longer has to push a larger system update to patch security holes. This should allow the company to more quickly issue security patches to fix holes faster. It also reduces the size of updates; while updates to intermediate versions of an operating system (e.g., 16.4.1) can be several hundred megabytes in size, today's RSR update is only about 85 MB. 

The update is rolling out over 48 hours, so it may not show up on all users' phones or computers at the same time. Users will get a notification that a software update is ready for them, and the update occurs just like a normal OS update. 

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Apple (update)

Ars Technica

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2023 05 > Apple rolls out first public Rapid Security Response update
Sam Medley, 2023-05- 2 (Update: 2023-05- 2)