Apple Introduces Lockdown Mode to Protect against Spying
Apple has announced that iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura will possess a new security feature called Lockdown Mode. This “extreme, extra protection” is intended for users who are most at risk of targeted spyware attacks: human rights activists, journalists, dissidents, and so on.
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The developers promise that the Lockdown mode will protect users’ connections while they are messaging and browsing the web by blocking spyware (like NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware) that government hackers routinely use against Apple device owners.
Attempts by attackers to compromise the gadget using 0-click exploits (usually aimed at instant messengers or web browsers) will be automatically stopped, as all potentially dangerous features, such as link previews, will be disabled.
The first version of Lockdown Mode will include the following protection mechanisms.
- Messages: Most types of attachments (except images) will be blocked, and some features will also be disabled, including link previews.
- Apple services: Incoming invitations and service requests, including FaceTime calls, are blocked if the user has not previously sent them to the call or requester.
- Wired connections to your computer and accessories are blocked when iPhone is locked.
- Configuration profiles (can be used to download third-party apps that bypass the App Store) cannot be installed and the device cannot enroll in MDM while Lockdown is active.
Citizen Lab expert John Scott-Railton, who has advised and studied the NSO Group’s spyware victims, writes that Lockdown mode is one of the first sufficiently effective protection methods for vulnerable users that they can follow without turning off their devices completely.