Apple Puts First Rapid Security Response Patch On iPhones

By   Olivia William
Writer , Information Security Buzz | May 02, 2023 04:25 am PST

As of now, the release of Apple’s initial Rapid Security Response update to the public, which includes security fixes for iOS 16.4.1 and macOS 13.3.1, hasn’t been entirely smooth.

According to a support document recently published by the company, RSR patches are updates of small size that aim to address security issues on iPhone, iPad, and Mac platforms between major software updates.

Users do not need to go through the normal software update process to install a Rapid Security Response update, which is a unique type of update. Instead, the update can be downloaded and installed within minutes, avoiding a lengthy update procedure.

The updates have undergone beta testing and are designed to provide significant security improvements between regular software updates. These improvements may include fast solutions to critical security issues, such as active exploits targeting Apple’s software, with RSR changes aimed at reducing the risk of data loss or infection.

The WebKit framework stack, the Safari web browser, and other important system libraries are among the software updates that benefit greatly from “rapid security response updates,” which are released in between software updates. – Apple clarifies 

In some cases, these off-cycle security updates can be made to address vulnerabilities that are being actively exploited in attacks. ‘They may also help to more quickly fix security risks, such as those that have been actively exploited or issues that have been documented to exist “in the wild,”

iOS 16.4.1 Rapid Security Response Update

Rapid Security Response updates allow critical software fixes to be installed quickly without lengthy waiting periods. These updates can be installed within minutes and may not require a reboot at times. RSR updates are installed automatically on the user’s device and can be disabled through settings if required.

Apple has stated that the Rapid Security Response (RSR) updates can be used to quickly address security issues, including those that may have been reported or exploited “in the wild.” The process for installing the RSR update is the same as a regular update. Accessing it through the Settings app on the iPhone, users can easily download and install the 85MB patch in just a few minutes. For Mac users, the update can be obtained via the System settings on their devices.

The update is gradually being made available to users around the world, so it may take some time for iPhones and Mac devices to receive it. After the update is successfully installed, a new software version number is displayed, such as iOS 16.4.1 (a).

Upon the release of the new Rapid Security Response (RSR) update, users experienced difficulties installing the patch. Several users reported encountering an error message while updating their devices, stating, “Unable to Verify Security Response.” Apple has not yet disclosed the cause of this error.

“For all users, the Rapid Security Response update provides vital security patches and is strongly recommended. If you’re using an iPhone, please note that the update’s size is around 85MB. Despite the update being visible in the Settings app, some iPhone users are encountering an error message that states, “Unable to verify security response,” when attempting to install it.” — apple says.

How To Check For Update 

After installing the Rapid Security Response updates, the software version number on users’ devices will display an ‘a’ beside it. For instance, macOS 13.3.1 (a) or iOS 16.4.1 (a). Apple has also confirmed that only users who have updated to the latest versions of iOS, iPadOS, and MacOS will receive Rapid Security Response updates.

Furthermore, Apple is issuing a distinct Rapid Security Response update to macOS 13.3.1 users, who are operating the latest public version of Mac. To receive Rapid Security Response updates, it is essential to confirm that the capability to receive them is enabled on your device: 

● For iPhone or iPad users, navigate to Settings > General > Software Update > Automatic Updates, and verify that “Security Responses & System Files” is enabled.

● For Mac users, simply tap on the Apple menu, select System Preferences, click on General in the sidebar, then click on Software Update. Confirm that “Install Security Responses and system files” is enabled by clicking the Show Details button next to Automatic Updates.

Your device will receive the security patches as part of a subsequent software upgrade if you disable automatic updates or choose not to install Rapid Security Responses when prompted.

Should Users Be Updating?

Last year, during the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple had announced the introduction of software patches that aimed to simplify the process of pushing security fixes to devices without the need to wait for larger updates. This ensures that security bugs are not left unpatched and vulnerable to exploitation by threat actors.

Some devices can install the patch without the need for a system reboot, and users can choose not to accept these updates at all or uninstall them if they pose any problems. However, users who choose to opt-out of the patch may leave their devices exposed to exploitation of security bugs that are fixed in the update.

Apple has stated that users who opt-out of the patch will receive the relevant fixes in subsequent software updates. After applying the Rapid Security Response patch, a letter is added after the software version number, as mentioned on Apple’s support blog.


Last year, at WWDC, Apple had announced the introduction of “Rapid Security Response” (RSR) updates for iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Recently, the first publicly released patch for the system started rolling out. Initially, the patch installation encountered issues, with the update claiming that every iPhone was offline. However, after a while, the installation process started working smoothly, and the update was installed on available devices within around 30 seconds.

The RSR system is designed to make security updates more convenient, with security fixes being added in between larger system updates that can be installed on some devices without requiring a reboot. Users also have the option to opt-out of receiving these updates entirely or uninstall them if they cause any issues.

Upon the release of the RSR update, users received a notification that the 85MB patch was available for download, but upon installation, they encountered an error message stating “Unable to Verify Security Response.” This error message was experienced by many other users on various platforms. However, the issue was resolved later on, and the update was successfully installed on all available devices.

Apple has not yet updated its security page to explain what issues the patch fixes, and the company has not yet said anything in relation to the error messages. The support page states that the first security updates are available for iOS 16.4.1, iPadOS 16.4.1, and macOS 13.3.1. After completely installing the update, the version number should have a letter added to indicate that the device has been updated.

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