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Apple Releases Security Patch for iPhone

Apple Inc. (AAPL) has issued a software patch to fix some security holes that independent security researchers recently discovered for the company's vaunted iPhone.

The software update that Apple said it released late Tuesday addresses several bugs and security issues, but most notably a flaw that could have allowed hackers to take control of the multimedia cell phone to spread spam or steal data if its owner was to visit a doctored Web site or Wi-Fi hotspot.

The iPhone hijacking vulnerability was only theoretical; there were no reports of criminals taking advantage of the glitch.

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Still, such findings — and their subsequent patches — often help to make it more difficult for malicious attacks on computers and other gizmos like the iPhone, which connect to computers or the Internet.

The much-hyped iPhone — a combination cell phone, iPod player and wireless Web gadget — quickly became a popular research target after its June 29 launch.

Its first-ever software update came just two days before analysts at Independent Security Evaluators were set to discuss the iPhone's hijacking hole at a hackers convention in Las Vegas.

"One of the great things about iPhone is that we can easily deliver software updates and bug fixes through iTunes when necessary," Apple spokeswoman Jennifer Bowcock said Wednesday from a prepared statement.

On another front, the iPhone's battery has become the target of consumer complaints.

Chicago attorney Larry Drury filed a class-action lawsuit last week against Apple and the iPhone's exclusive U.S. carrier, AT&T Corp. (T), alleging the companies failed to properly disclose the associated replacement costs and limited life of the gadget's battery.

"The public is entitled to know what they're getting for the money that they spent," Drury said in a phone interview Wednesday.

The lawsuit, which names Chicago-area resident Jose Trujillo as the plaintiff, was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County in Illinois.

The New York Consumer Protection Board has also sent a letter to Apple, complaining that the battery replacement costs are too expensive.

In the July 17 letter, the state agency asked Apple to improve its iPhone return policy and change the battery design so it can replaced by the user instead of requiring Apple repair service for a new battery and paying extra for a loaner unit in the interim.

Apple's Bowcock and AT&T spokesman Fletcher Cook declined to comment on the iPhone complaints, citing company policies against discussing pending litigation matters.