Apple security vulnerabilities have alarmed some in higher education.

A new security hole has opened up in Apple Inc.’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices, raising alarms about the susceptibility of some of the world’s hottest tech gadgets to hacker attacks.

Flaws in the software running those devices came to light after a German security agency warned that criminals could use them to steal confidential data off the devices.

Apple, the world’s largest technology company by market value, said Thursday that it is working on a fix that will be distributed in an upcoming software upgrade.

With the security hole, an attacker can get malicious software onto a device by tricking its owner into clicking an infected PDF file. Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security called the flaws “critical weaknesses” in Apple’s iOS operating system.

Internet-connected mobile devices are still subject to fewer attacks than personal computer, but they could eventually prove a juicy target for hackers because they are warehouses of confidential banking, e-mail, calendar, contact and other data.

Software vulnerabilities are discovered all the time. What makes the latest discovery alarming is that the weaknesses are already being actively exploited — albeit in a consensual way.

The latest concerns were prompted by the emergence of a new version of a program to allow Apple devices to run any software and circumvent the restrictions that Apple notoriously retains over software distributed through its online store.

There are security risks of doing so, but many people find it liberating to install their own software.


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