The iPhone 5S (2013) and other old devices get critical security patches

Apple has provided security updates to fix known exploits on some of its older iPhone models, dating all the way back to the iPhone 5s.

iPhone 5s resting on its packaging
iPhone 5s debuted the Secure Enclave coprocessor | Image: Alvaro Reyes/Unsplash
  • What’s happening? Apple released security updates for old devices, like the 2013-vintage iPhone 5s, including the 2014-era iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
  • Why care? Providing security patches for a phone over 9 years old is unheard of in the mobile industry, even by Apple’s standards.
  • What to do? The updates will automatically install overnight provided you have automatic updates turned on. Otherwise, venture into Settings → General → Software Update to manually install any pending updates.

iOS 12.5.7 brings a critical security fix to the iPhone 5s

Old iPhones don’t support new features brought by iOS software updates, but Apple’s penchant for supporting those with security patches was again on display with the January 24 release of iOS 12.5.7.

The is available for the iPhone 5s (2013), as well as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (2014). iOS 12.5.7 is also available for the original iPad Air (2013), iPad mini 2 (2013), iPad mini 3 (2014) and the sixth-generation iPod touch (2015).

Most of these devices are on Apple’s vintage list. “Products are considered vintage when Apple stopped distributing them for sale more than 5 and less than 7 years ago,” explains Apple’s support document.

The security content of iOS 12.5.7 focuses on a single issue with WebKit, the rendering engine used by the Safari browser. This known exploit uses maliciously crafted web content to force arbitrary code execution. Apple confirmed it’s aware of a report that this vulnerability may have been actively exploited against versions of iOS released before iOS 15.1. Read: How to automatically install iOS updates overnight

“A type confusion issue was addressed with improved state handling,” explains the security document describing the security content of iOS 12.5.7.

Apple also released iOS 15.7.3 and iPadOS 15.7.3 for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, the original iPhone SE, iPad Air 2, the fourth-generation iPad mini and the seventh-generation iPod touch. The updates resolve five security issues; you can find more about them in yet another security document.

Fixes for older Macs, too

On the Mac side, Apple launched macOS Monterey 12.6.3 and macOS Big Sur 11.7.3 for the 2013 edition of the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Pro. Those updates, however, also fix several other security issues specific to the macOS platform.

There’s also the Safari 16.3 update which strictly focuses on bringing fixes for the WebKit exploits to all Macs compatible with macOS Big Sur and macOS Monterey.