Apple Announced Lockdown Mode to Block Highly Targeted Attacks

To block targeted attacks against specific people, Apple is introducing a new Lockdown Mode in iOS 16, which blocks grave threats like Pegasus exploits.

When turned on the lockdown mode, Apple will block message attachments, access to iPhone when it’s connected to a PC, and block FaceTime calls from unknown numbers. Though this may reduce the functionality and overall experience, restricting such can improve security.

Apple’s New Lockdown Mode

Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a sharp rise in targeted cyberattacks against specific people who strive for the society. And most of these attacks on the surface are led by Pegasus – spyware made by an Israeli firm called NSO Group, which has been in the headlines for a number of times.

Though the company claims to sell it’s software (Pegasus) only to government agencies for capturing terrorists and pedophiles, it’s being exploited by several agencies to spy on sensitive people like activists, journalists, etc – who work against the government.

This caught immediate attention, as the Pegasus was capable of turning almost any phone into spyware letting the threat actors listen to victims’ conversations, read and export chats (even from encrypted messengers), record calls, etc.

And Apple’s iPhone is one of the most affected hardware, in several Pegasus-involved attacks. This led Apple to launch a new feature called the “Lockdown Mode“, which would block attacks against “grave, targeted threats to their digital security”, says Apple.

This feature is scheduled to arrive in iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura in the autumn – as an option for a “very small number of users“.

When enabled, the system blocks most message attachments, incoming FaceTime calls from users who have not previously called or initiated a call request, and bars iPhone when it is connected to a computer or accessory when locked.

Though these measures may reduce the device’s functionality, it closes the overall security gap. Apple also announced a reward of $2 million to anyone who can find loopholes in this new feature.

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