Apple software flawiPhone, iPad and iPod users should be aware of a recently discovered Apple software flaw that could reveal your email and other personal information — which should be encrypted — to hackers, as reported by Reuters. The software flaw was discovered by the company itself, however the company did not explain how or when it learned of the flaw. Security researchers have said that Mac OSX, which runs in Apple laptops and desktop computers, has a similar security flaw, however this has not yet been confirmed by Apple, as reported by Reuters.

How can hackers gain access to your email and information?

In order for hackers to intercept your emails and communications with other websites, they must first gain access to your device’s network, which can be done a variety of ways. An example of how hackers can gain access to your network is through shared unsecured Wi-Fi at a public place, such as a coffee shop. Once the hackers have access to your network, they can read through and alter information that you’ve entered into any protected site, which can include any email or banking website, among other sites.

How can I protect myself?

This is a very serious security flaw, so in order to protect your privacy, you should take action sooner rather than later. Follow the steps detailed below to ensure your identity remains safe.

1. Update your software ASAP: Since the discovery of the flaw, Apple has released a software patch that will no longer make you and your phone vulnerable. To download the update called iOS 7.0.6 for the iPhone 4 and later, 5th generation iPod touch as well as iPad 2 and later (or iOS 6.1.6 for the iPhone 3GS and 4th generation iPod touch), go to the settings menu, then select “General” and click on “Software Update.” There you’ll have the option to download the updated software. It’s important to note that Apple requires you to connect to Wi-Fi in order to complete the update.

2. Only access personal information on secure networks: Even though the software update will protect your device, it’s still important to remember that you should never access personal information on a unsecured or public network, such as Wi-Fi or a hot spot. Identity thieves often use unsecured Wi-Fi or hot spots to hack into their victims’ phones, tablets or computers in order to intercept their communication with protected websites with the intention to gather your personal information or account usernames and passwords.

3. Don’t send personal information via email: Sending personal information via email is convenient, however it also isn’t the safest way to share personal information because it can be misdirected or even hacked. Instead, you should opt to verbally share personal information so you know who you’re giving the information to. Also, if you’re near other people, make sure you whisper the information to verify that strangers don’t gain access to your personal information. If you’d prefer to not verbally share information, you can also choose to write it down on a piece of paper and show the person that needs the information. Once they have gathered the necessary information, ask for the paper back and shred it as soon as you can.

4. Consider signing up for identity theft protection: Since your device and identity may have already been breached, it’s best that you take an extra step to make sure your information is safe. Signing up for an identity theft protection service will allow you to not only make sure your information was not breached, but also help you detect any possible information breach in the future. These services monitor your information on the Internet black market and public records to make sure it’s not being sold, traded or used by identity thieves. Some identity theft protection services also monitor the activity on all three — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — of your credit reports to verify that nothing is changed or added to your credit reports. The best part of these services is that most provide some sort of  free trial so you can test out the service prior to making a financial commitment.

Read our identity theft reviews to find the best service for your needs and visit our identity theft protection blog to learn more about how to protect yourself from identity theft in every aspect of your life.