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Apple Issues Emergency Updates for All Its Operating Systems

When Apple updated its operating systems last month (see “Apple Releases macOS 10.14.6, iOS 12.4, watchOS 5.3, tvOS 12.4, and More,” 22 July 2019), the company’s engineers accidentally reintroduced a previously patched vulnerability that allowed jailbreaking. To close that vulnerability and prevent device jailbreaking, Apple has now released a series of emergency updates: macOS Mojave 10.14.6 Supplemental Update, iOS 12.4.1, watchOS 5.3.1, and tvOS 12.4.1.

Apple actually released macOS Mojave 10.14.6 Supplemental Update a few weeks ago, saying at the time that it fixed “an issue that may prevent certain Macs from waking from sleep properly”—see “macOS Mojave 10.14.6 Supplemental Update” (2 August 2019). Apple’s description now says that this updated version “resolves an issue that may cause certain Mac notebooks to shut down during sleep.” In addition, it fixes a bug that can degrade performance when working with very large files and another that could prevent Pages, Keynote, Numbers, iMovie, and GarageBand from updating.

Here’s how to install the updates:

  • macOS 10.14.6 Supplemental Update: Install this 1.25 GB update from System Preferences > Software Update.
  • iOS 12.4.1: Go to Settings > General Software Update. The update for an iPhone X is 99.3 MB.
  • watchOS 5.3.1: Use the iPhone’s Watch app—go to Watch > General > Software Update. The update for an Apple Watch Series 4 is 55.4 MB.
  • tvOS 12.4.1: If automatic updates aren’t on, you can update your Apple TV HD or Apple TV 4K by going to Settings > System > Software Updates.

Given the severity of the vulnerability, we advise installing these updates as soon as possible. While some people like jailbreaking their devices—and it’s certainly your right to do so—the security vulnerabilities that make jailbreaking possible by definition give attackers root-level access to your devices. Put bluntly, we don’t jailbreak our devices, and we don’t recommend that you do either.

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Comments About Apple Issues Emergency Updates for All Its Operating Systems

Notable Replies

  1. I am so glad I didn’t update past High Sierra.

  2. Why? There’s nothing magical about High Sierra in terms of security. Its last security update from 22 July 2019 fixes 10 vulnerabilities, and it’s an extremely good bet that there will be additional security updates in the future that will address more newly discovered vulnerabilities.

    Apple should certainly be embarrassed about reintroducing code that enabled this particular vulnerability, but to err is human. What’s important is that the mistake was caught and fixed fairly quickly. If anything, it’s the iOS team that’s probably angry at themselves, since the vulnerability enables jailbreaking in iOS.

    The main thing to remember is that Apple only releases security updates for the two previous versions of macOS. So once Catalina ships in September, macOS 10.12 Sierra will fall off the update train. And in September 2020, High Sierra will likely stop receiving security updates. So it has one more year before its security profile starts to degrade due to the lack of updates.

  3. Minor correction on installing the latest update on the Mac. At least in Mojave, it’s found under:

    Apple Menu>About this Mac>Software Update

    rather than

    Apple Menu>System Preferences>Software Update

  4. Both take you to the same place, no? (The Software Update pane of System Preference.)

  5. Right you are. Must admit I didn’t know there WAS a Software Update pane in System Preferences. It’s one of two choices under “About this Mac,” but one of many icons in System Prefs (where indeed it was wearing a “check me now” badge when I checked just now, even though I’ve already installed TWO updates bearing essentially the same name but no release date without a bunch of additional clicks. Grrr…

  6. I updated to 10.13.6 but my MacBook Pro advised that it was not installed and that I should restart. I did. Despite About this Mac telling me that I was up to date and displaying 10.13.6, my MB kept advising me to update to 10.13.6. I tried another few times and gave up. Then I bought a CD by Sibéal who has a beautiful voice and tried to load it into iTunes using 3 seprate optical drives, built in, USB and FireWire. No luck. Eventually, I put it onto an aged MacMini 10.4 and moved the songs onto a USB stick to get them into iTunes on my MB. However, I still couldn’t get them onto my iPod.
    Additionally I downloaded macOSUpdCombo10.13.6.dmg but it refused to install.
    I ran DiskWarrior on my MB and then my iPod worked fine with iTunes.
    My MB still is telling me to install Security Update 2019-004 10.13.6. I’m tempted to ignore it till the next Security Update but am open to advice…

  7. Yes, you are right about security updates.

    However, I like the way many of my 32 bit Apps work for me and am not inclined to use a less capable computer to satisfy some profit driven device manufacturing corporate need to please stock holders. I have other devices that can access the internet.

    The reason I stopped at High Sierra has to do with some of the newer image, audio and video Apps that don’t work on Mountain Lion. Hight Sierra will still operate some of the really well designed 32 bit applications that are not supported in newer versions of Mac operating systems.

    Phil

  8. Too many emergencies, too much carelessness. As long as a user practices reasonable hygiene on his/her network and uses up to date browsers (out of date Safari is the biggest security vector), there’s almost no issue using final versions of old OS. If the error is egregious enough Apple would have to introduce a retro-patch for an old OS to cover at least the last ten years.

    Staying two or three (or even five versions behind with Snow Leopard) version behind Apple has served me well. My third party applications are up-to-date and stable when I update and I don’t have to deal with the point improvements.

    Apple has introduced nothing since Snow Leopard which matters a whit to productivity. The Snow Leopard years with no OS updates were the most productive of my life. All good things must come to an end though: recent graphic cards and browser publishers no longer support Snow Leopard.

  9. There is a relatively inexpensive path to provide security updates. As long as the underlying CPU chip supports 32 bits instructions, one can utilize a 64 bit virtual machine that supports 32 bit programs. I use Parallels to run macOS Tiger which supports the old Power PC chip with Rosetta. I needed to perform some Quicken conversions. Similarly, I use another virtual machine, SheepShaver newly upgraded to supports 64 bits, to run a Mac OS 9.2 app. I also run a Windows Quicken program on Windows 10 inside of Parallels.

    I sent a message to the Apple macOS forum to see if this will work. I received a “this should work”, which is not definitive, but I’ll go with that bet for now.

    When Catalina comes out, you should have a safe harbor. Think of Catalina as a moat around your castle with 32 bit children therein repelling all security attacks.

    When Apple comes out with their CPU, it will probably only be a 64 bit chip and we’ll have to hope Parallels comes out with an Intel 32 bit emulator.

    Failing the creation of an emulator, you still have choices. Get a modern machine and OS and use it for secure access to the world; and, air gap your 32 bit machine using some connection between machines for data exchanges. Or, just stop buying more computers. :>)

  10. Yes, the Software Update pane is how all updates happen in Mojave, but it’s new to Mojave. Apple did something very weird with this macOS Mojave Supplemental Update, releasing it once and then again, as you saw. I don’t understand why it didn’t just release it as 10.14.7.

    It’s not a conspiracy. Technology evolves. You don’t have to adopt it, but it’s not aimed at making you buy anything. (Which is partly why macOS upgrades are all free now, unlike in the past.) Without the move to 64-bit that happened many years ago and that Apple has been evangelizing to developers ever since, Macs would be far less capable.

    If you rely on 32-bit apps that you don’t wish to update or replace, you should consider updating to Mojave soon, since once Catalina comes out, upgrading to Mojave on devices that can run Catalina will become more difficult. Mojave can run 32-bit apps just fine.

  11. Is that really the case? I’m well aware of pro code that exploits that, but on a consumer level are people really seeing vast benefits or are we mainly talking future possibilities?

  12. That’s a good question, and I’m not a developer so I don’t really know. My understanding is that 32-bit apps running on a 64-bit system cause inefficiencies, and the apps themselves are limited in the amount of RAM they can address and the like. Obviously, they’ve run fine since 2007, when Apple transitioned all Macs to 64-bit chips, but Apple has been clear about how developers were going to have to move to 64-bit eventually. And that time is now.

    The solution for many people will probably be virtualization—just run Mojave in a virtual machine and you can use ancient software as long as you want.

  13. Yes, I can see I wasn’t thorough in my description of a capable computer.

    My best computer, for creative projects, is my mid 2012 Aluminum MacBook Pro because it has multiple ports, (headphone-Mic/optical/USB/SD card/Display/Firewire/Ethernet and an internal optical drive), and I use these irreplaceable features for photography, audio/video recording and editing, mixing multi track live and studio recordings, CD and DVD production.

    It can still be serviced by me at home. I swap out SSD drives in minutes, replace the battery as needed and have gone from 4GB RAM to 16 over the years. If and when I need a new work and creative project computer, it will be a Hackintosh with all the power, features and ports I find useful. I might even use my 21.5in 4k iMac for the monitor.

    The new OS improvements have been removing features from software as willy nilly as they have been removing ports. The updated versions of iMovie/iPhoto(Photos)/Garageband/Pages and Keynote are no longer fluid because they removed key features and turned one-click actions into time consuming multiple clicks and key combinations. The newer iMovie is no longer useful for building a video from a soundtrack. I would get a new version of Final Cut (pro), but that got messed up, too.

    The latest amazing improvements might be helpful if you are a consumer using an iPhone or iPad and you want an algorithm make your movies and music for you. Like I mentioned in an earlier reply, I would not have upgraded past Mountain Lion if I didn’t find a few advances in a couple of programs I use regularly.

    Phil

  14. I’m not sure I fully understand your situation, but updating to Security Update 2019-004 10.13.6 came several months after High Sierra was updated from 10.13.5 to 10.13.6, so it sounds like you still need an update.

  15. But if those 32 bit apps were popular or profitable, wouldn’t the developer want to upgrade them to 64 bit sand extend their lives?

    I understand they’re good for you and get the job done, but why doesn’t the developer still support them?

    Sure, the developer could have passed away. Maybe he took a full time job and no longer had time to work on his creation. Or he retired and discovered the joys of going outside? Or he started a company in an entirely different industry.

    But clearly there aren’t enough people like you to make it worthwhile for the developer to update the software.

    Yes, it was a bit sad after loading the first Catalina beta to see all those old apps with a circle and a line through the icon. There were some fun games in that collection. Some things that couldn’t be replaced. Trashed 'em all.

    I had a lot of affection for Andrew Welch’s company Ambrosia Software. There was this cool utility he gave away free called Easy Envelopes+. Ran under Dashboard and just was so handy. But it has been years since I actually mailed a letter in an envelope. I don’t even own a printer anymore.

    Someday, you will have to say goodbye to your old friends. And I do mean old. But it will only hurt for a while. In a month or two you’ll forget all about them.

    Plus think of all the fun you’ll have looking for and evaluating new software./

  16. I’ve been using a 64-bit version of Easy Envelopes for years. It was $10 from the App store. It hasn’t been updated in ages, and Ambrosia Software appears to be dead, but there is no indication that the app will die soon.

  17. Hi Al, many thanks for your reply. I updated High Sierra 10.13.6 a few months ago. This morning I decided to try again to install Security Update 2019-004 10.13.6. Again, it failed to accept the Security Update. Furthermore, my MB froze upon restart, i.e. the timeline bar advanced about 8% and no further after 10 minutes. Accordingly, I ran DiskWarrior again. Upon restart, my MB still says that I need to install Security Update 2019-004 10.13.6…

  18. Have you tried just letting it sit there for an hour or so? Sometimes these things look like something has crashed when in fact the indicator (which can be wildly inaccurate) is just not progressing.

    If in doubt, I’d set it up before you go to bed and just let it take the entire night if it has to. If after several hours you see the same, it’s probably safe to assume it has indeed crashed.

  19. It feels to me like there’s some disk corruption going on here. Make sure you have good backups! It might be worth reformatting the drive, reinstalling High Sierra, and then restoring from backup.

  20. Hi Adam, Many thanks for the suggestion. I will do that.

  21. Hi Adam, I took it to a Certified shop where they whipped out the HDD, replaced it with a SSD and had no difficulty installing the Security Update. My goodness, this machine is faster than greased lightning! Many thanks again for your suggestion. All the best, Pascal

  22. Good move! SSDs are far, far better than hard drives for performance and they’re all I recommend these days.

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