When iOS 16 launches this fall, millions of iPhone users may need to upgrade their phones. That’s because iOS 16 only works on iPhone 8 and above, with some features even demanding a later Apple device to work.
This is bad news for iPhone users, and not just because of the iOS 16 features you will miss. If you can’t upgrade to iOS 16, that also means you won’t receive security updates on your iPhone, which of course could put you at risk.
Apple has been very proactive with iPhone security updates lately, releasing them almost monthly for the past two years. Some of the security updates were for vulnerabilities in the iPhone and iPad that were already exploited, in other words, used by adversaries in real attacks.
In the past, this might not have been a problem – Apple updated iOS 14 for months after iOS 15 was released, along with significant security upgrades. Although the iPhone maker didn’t fix all of the iOS 15 vulnerabilities in iOS 14, the average person might be quite happy that their iPhone is safe. But then Apple stopped iOS 14 updates, which meant you had to upgrade to the latest version of iOS 15 to make sure your iPhone was secure.
Apple has been known to release updates for older operating systems when the iPhone vulnerability was particularly severe, for example, iOS 12.5.5 patched the problem used for Pegasus “zero click” attacks. However, this is a rare occurrence. You must be on the latest version of iOS to stay safe.
iOS 16 iPhones – what to do to stay safe
It’s not ideal, of course – while an iPhone’s lifespan isn’t infinite, not everyone can afford to upgrade their devices when iOS 16 comes out later this year. So what can you do?
I hope Apple will continue to update iOS 15 with important security updates like it did with iOS 14, but we can’t count on it. If it updates to iOS 15, it’ll probably buy you a few more months.
Moreover, there are some steps you can take to secure your iPhone once iOS 16 is released. For general iPhone security, be careful about the apps you download. At the same time, it makes sense to regularly check the apps on your iPhone and delete the ones you don’t need.
Stay vigilant, especially if you think you’re a target: beware of your messages and attachments, don’t click on random links, and be careful when using your browser.