The Cupertino tech giant recently announced “lockdown mode” for its various devices to protect its customers, including journalists and human rights activists. The lockdown mode is an extreme level of security designed to protect these users from Pegasus-style spyware attacks.
Apple will roll out the mode in autumn alongside iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura. Additionally, the company said the setting is specifically designed to protect its high-profile users against government-backed hacks. Therefore, switching to the lockdown mode will restrict the functions of Apple devices to limit the possible entry points for spyware.
Furthermore, the news acknowledges the seriousness of government-backed organizations’ increasing use of spyware. Finally, it shows how phone makers like Apple are finally taking steps to protect their clients from such threats.
How will the lockdown mode work?
The setting will block most message attachments other than images. In addition, it will block link previews, incoming FaceTime calls, and other invites. Thus, allowing them to go through only if users have previously called or shared an invite with those callers. Besides that, the lockdown mode will block access to an iPhone connected with a computer or accessory when locked.
The lockdown mode is optional for high-profile Apple customers like human rights activists and journalists. In addition, the setting will become available to users in the fall. And Apple will continue to add more protections offered by the lockdown mode over time. Additionally, the company is offering a reward of $2 million to anyone who can get around this new setting.
Ivan Krstić, head of security engineering and architecture at Apple, stated, “Apple makes the most secure mobile devices on the market.” He said lockdown mode is a “groundbreaking” setting that proves their commitment to protecting their users from even the “rarest of attacks.” Krstić elaborated that not all users risk becoming victims of such attacks. However, they will work “tirelessly” to shield those minorities who are in jeopardy of such spyware attacks. Thus, they will continue to specifically design defenses for these users. And also “support researchers and organizations worldwide doing critically important work in exposing mercenary companies that create these digital attacks.”
Lastly, Apple is donating $10 million and any damage it might receive in its legal suit with the NSO Group to organizations that try to prevent, expose, and investigate highly targeted cyberattacks. The company will offer these grants through the Ford Foundation’s Dignity and Justice Fund.