Apple MacBooks at risk from flawed updates, Duo Security says

Users of MacBooks running MacOS 10.13 High Sierra will receive weekly alerts monitoring their firmware.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Maybe it isn’t sexy, but it stops hackers from using well-known bugs to break into your computer. In fact, it’s the most important thing you can do to keep your computer safe.

Say it with me: Update your software.

But there isn’t much you can you do if the update doesn’t work the way it should. That’s what’s happening with some automatic updates to Apple computers. According to research published by Duo Security on Friday, Apple updates can sometimes leave out very important patches to computer firmware, the updatable code that runs on computer processors and other chips.

Out of more than 73,000 Macs reviewed by the researchers, 4.2 percent didn’t have the version of firmware they should’ve had. Some models of Apple computers, many of them older, were especially behind the curve, with 16 of them showing no firmware updates and 18 of them appearing only to have been updated before leaving the factory.

In the computers with firmware that was older than expected, “The update failed for some reason, and that failure was never noticed,” said Rich Smith, director of research and development at Duo Labs.

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