Published on: July 8, 2022
The latest beta versions of iOS and macOS now include “Lockdown Mode,” which is a feature that is provided as an optional defense for users most vulnerable to targeted attacks on their devices.
The feature is set to be released publicly with the launch of iOS 16 and macOS Ventura later this year.
“It offers an extreme, optional level of security for the very few users who, because of who they are or what they do, may be personally targeted by some of the most sophisticated digital threats, such as those from NSO Group and other private companies developing state-sponsored mercenary spyware,” said Apple.
Turning on Lockdown mode will heighten the device’s defenses but limit certain functions,
“It will sharply reduce the attack surface that potentially could be exploited by highly targeted mercenary spyware,” added Apple.
The feature is currently in development, as the tech giant promises to strengthen it over time. According to Apple’s press release on Wednesday, Lockdown Mode will impact the following functionalities:
- Messages. Most message attachment types besides images are blocked. Some features, like link previews, are also disabled.
- 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. Wire connections with a computer or accessory are blocked when the iPhone is locked.
- Configuration profiles. Configuration profiles cannot be installed, and the device cannot enroll into mobile device management (MDM) when Lockdown Mode is turned on.
Additionally, Apple introduced a new category in the Apple Security Bounty program to reward researchers who find Lockdown Mode bypasses. Bounties for findings that qualify go up to $2 million dollars, which is the highest reward in the bug bounty program.
In November, Apple hit Israeli tech company NSO Group (developer of the Pegasus spyware) with a lawsuit, alleging that it used state-sponsored spyware to attack Apple users across the globe with dangerous malware and spyware.