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Apple’s New “Lockdown Mode” to Protect Users from Highly Targeted Mercenary Spyware

Posted On: July 8, 2022 | min read

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Apple Claims 'Lockdown Mode' Protects Against Spyware

Apple is previewing a groundbreaking security capability that offers specialized additional protection to users who may be at risk of highly targeted cyberattacks from private companies developing state-sponsored mercenary spyware. It is called Lockdown Mode in iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura to safeguard high-risk users against “highly targeted cyberattacks.”

Lockdown Mode

Apple detailed two initiatives to help protect users who may be personally targeted by some of the most sophisticated digital threats, such as those from private companies developing state-sponsored mercenary spyware. Lockdown Mode — the first major capability of its kind, coming this fall with iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura — is an extreme, optional protection for the very small number of users who face grave, targeted threats to their digital security.

At launch, Lockdown Mode includes the following protections:

• Messages: Most message attachment types other than images are blocked. Some features, like link previews, are disabled.
• Web browsing: Certain complex web technologies, like just-in-time (JIT) JavaScript compilation, are disabled unless the user excludes a trusted site from Lockdown Mode.
• Apple services: Incoming invitations and service requests, including FaceTime calls, are blocked if the user has not previously sent the initiator a call or request.
• Wired connections with a computer or accessory are blocked when iPhone is locked.
• Configuration profiles cannot be installed, and the device cannot enroll into mobile device management (MDM), while Lockdown Mode is turned on.

 

It’s worth noting that the feature will not be switched on by default, but can be accessed by heading to Settings > Privacy & Security > Lockdown Mode.

Apple will continue to strengthen Lockdown Mode and add new protections to it over time.

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