Most iPad owners are looking forward to using iOS 4.2 thanks to folders, multitasking, and other new features. Now there may be an even more important reason to update your firmware. Apple has revealed that updating your iPad from iOS 3.2.2 to the latest 4.2.1 patches no less than eighty (80) security vulnerabilities.
40 of these fixes have already been deployed on iPhones running iOS 4.1, with the other 40 implemented in 4.2.1. This leaves iPads with 3.2.2 firmware in the dust, with a long list of known Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) as detailed in this Apple support document. As a matter of policy, Apple remains quiet about security holes until they are fixed to help prevent iPads and iPhones from being compromised by malicious code.
So what do you have to worry about if your firmware isn't updated? Possible nothing, but the list is extensive. Reading a simple PDF can expose your iPad to instability or even hidden programs designed to infiltrate your device. (Remember the in-browser JailbreakMe 2.0? Closing down this PDF exploit was one of the reasons Apple updated to 3.2.2.)
Most of the problems revolve around the WebKit, as a number of security holes can allow malicious web sites to execute arbitrary code, watch your web surfing history, or even just crash your browser. Now that the definitive list of iPad security vulnerabilities is public knowledge, you can be sure there are bad guys out there looking for a way to exploit iPads running older firmware.
Other features that are patched for improved security in iOS 4.2 include iAd Content Display, Mail, Networking, Photos, and many others. The iPad iOS 4.2.1 update is available now, and can be installed using iTunes. Oh, and besides some extra security you'll get a ton of new features to improve your iPad experience.