With the release of iOS 4.3 for iPhone, iPod and iPad, Apple plugged a hole that let children rack up hundreds of dollars of charges on their parents' iTunes accounts.
The problem involves "in-app purchases," commonly found in games and virtual communities. The Smurf's Village app, for example, is a popular free download, but the Smurfberries used as currency in the game don't come cheap: it's possible to buy a $100 wagon-full with a single purchase.
As Apple veterans know, even a free download requires the user to enter an iTunes password. However, before this week's update, that password didn't have to be re-entered for additional purchases made in the next 15 minutes. Download the game, hand your iPad to your child, and he or she could innocently rack up huge charges for in-game goodies.
Most users can now plug this potential leak by downloading the free iOS 4.3 software. One thing to note, though, this update is not available for older Apple devices, so some parents will still have to deal with the problem with vigilance and a stopwatch.