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Lockdown Mode: Apple’s new security feature to battle advanced spyware

Apple lockdown mode

In an effort to make iPhones, iPads, and Mac devices more secure, Apple is introducing a new “lockdown” mode on these devices with an aim to protect Apple users against sophisticated hacking attacks such as Pegasus. The announcement comes in the aftermath of multiple intrusions from state-backed hackers and commercial spyware, wherein the government has attempted to keep a tab on journalists, activists, opposition leaders, and others.

Lockdown mode

As mentioned earlier, Lockdown mode will provide additional protection to users who may be at risk of highly targeted cyber attacks from private companies developing state-sponsored mercenary spyware. The mode will limit the smartphone’s functionalities that spy software could potentially access and exploit.

Apple in its blog stated that when a user will turn on Lockdown Mode, most attachments in the Messages app will be blocked, and only images will be allowed. Further, the feature will disable certain complex web technologies like just-in-time (JIT) JavaScript compilation, blocking of incoming invitations and service requests on Apple services like FaceTime, blocking of wired connections of an iPhone with a computer, etc.

Lockdown mode is not a default feature but an ‘optional’ level of security, which Apple says is an ‘extreme’ one and aimed at very few users.

Apple said it would continue to roll out new protections to strengthen Lockdown Mode in the future. The feature will roll out in September after the launch of the iPhone 14 series, with iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura.

Apple, along with the Lockdown Mode, has also announced a $10 million grant, in addition to any damages awarded from the lawsuit filed against NSO Group, to support organizations that investigate, expose, and prevent highly targeted cyberattacks, including those created by private companies developing state-sponsored mercenary spyware.

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