When Big Tech Does Good: Apple’s New Lockdown Mode
Apple’s New Lockdown Mode is a new security feature for iPhones, iPads, and Mac devices, which will be accessible later this year. What is it and how does it function? Why is Apple rolling out this feature?
In an effort to make it more difficult for mercenary spyware companies like Pegasus producer NSO Labs to target and hack iPhone users, Apple has revealed a significant upgrade to the security of the device. This followed the discovery of zero-day vulnerabilities by many private cyber offensive firms, which then allowed their clients — often government agencies and authorities — to break into the computers of journalists, activists, dissidents, etc.
What is Apple Lockdown Mode?
Why is Apple rolling out these features?
For many years, Apple has positioned its products as the safest and most private ones available, including iPhones, iPads, and Mac PCs. Last week, it strengthened that effort with a new function called Lockdown Mode that will be released this fall and is intended to combat targeted hacking attempts like the Pegasus malware, which some governments are alleged to have used on human rights activists, attorneys, politicians, and journalists worldwide. Additionally, Apple announced a $10 million grant and a $2 million bug bounty to support additional study into this emerging threat.
According to the tech giant, Lockdown Mode is intended to activate “extreme” security on its phones, including blocking message attachments and link previews, potentially hackable online surfing tools, and incoming FaceTime calls from obscene numbers. Apple devices cannot be installed with new remote management software while they are in Lockdown Mode, and they won’t allow accessory connections until the device is unlocked. In the fall, as part of iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and MacOS Ventura, the new capability will be made freely available to the general public. It is already available in test software being used by developers this summer.
Ivan Krsti, Apple’s head of security engineering and architecture, stated in a statement, “While the vast majority of users will never be the victims of highly targeted cyberattacks, we will work hard to defend the tiny number of people who are.” Lockdown Mode demonstrates our constant commitment to safeguarding consumers from even the rarest, most sophisticated assaults. It is a ground-breaking feature.
Along with the new Lockdown Mode, which Apple describes as a “extreme” step, the corporation also announced a $10 million donation to the Ford Foundation’s Dignity and Justice Fund in support of human rights and the fight against social repression.
The business’s initiatives to strengthen device security come as the tech sector has to deal with more and more targeted cyberattacks from oppressive governments throughout the globe. Attacks like those utilizing Pegasus are aimed for passive intelligence collection, in contrast to broad ransomware or virus operations, which frequently aim to spread indiscriminately the farthest and quickest via residential and corporate networks.
How does Lockdown Mode work?
Lockdown Mode modifies how your phone operates when it is enabled in settings to thwart targeted attacks that depend on web-based technologies, social engineering, and wired hacking.
When Lockdown Mode is activated, you can notice some of the following changes:
- Some functions won’t be disabled, and the majority of mail attachments are prohibited.
- FaceTime incoming calls from individuals who haven’t phoned you before will be blocked.
- There will be restrictions on several web technologies and browsing options.
- New invitations will be denied and shared albums will be deleted from Photos.
- While your iPhone is locked, all wired connections to other devices will be prevented.
- You will be prevented from accepting invitations from persons you haven’t already invited.
- Installing configuration profiles is not possible, including profiles for work or school.
When should you use Lockdown Mode?
Most individuals shouldn’t use Lockdown Mode in normal circumstances. It is made to combat sophisticated hacking and tailored spyware. These assaults, like the Pegasus attack by the NSO Group, only affect a select few people. For instance, Pegasus was employed to spy on journalists, politicians, and activists. Apple, however, claimed that during the previous eight months, it has discovered similar attacks on people in more than 150 countries. Lockdown Mode is for you if you are a famous person or are in a circumstance where you feel exposed or vulnerable to attacks. If not, you’ll probably never need it.
When will it be available?
According to Bloomberg, Apple just made Lockdown Mode available in the third developer version of iOS 16. Therefore, if you have signed up for Apple’s developer beta program, you can currently test Lockdown Mode on your iPhone. Just be aware that the feature might not function and seem as intended due to unstable software. Lockdown Mode will eventually be made available with iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura. These significant upgrades to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac were previewed by Apple at WWDC 2022, and it is anticipated that they will be made available this fall.
The revisions may also include Lockdown Mode in public beta versions that the majority of users can test this summer.