• June 3, 2023

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Apple announced a new Lockdown Mode today which will be available in iOS 16, scheduled to launch later this year. Lockdown mode is intended for those who are high-value targets for hacking, and makes iPhone one of the most secure phones available.

To ensure it stays that way, Apple is offering up to $2,000,000 prizes for hackers who can find Lockdown Mode bypasses and break in.

“Apple makes the most secure mobile devices on the market,” Ivan Krstić, Apple’s head of Security Engineering and Architecture, said in a statement. “Lockdown Mode is a groundbreaking capability that reflects our unwavering commitment to protecting users from even the rarest, most sophisticated attacks.”

Lockdown Mode includes:

  • SMS: link previews disabled
  • SMS: attachments blocked, except for images
  • Web: some Javascript features disabled unless on a trusted site that you explicitly identify
  • Facetime: incoming calls block from unknown sources
  • Wired connections: blocked when your iPhone is locked
  • Configuration profiles and device management: can’t be installed, can’t be enrolled

Apple is targeting Lockdown Mode for people who face sophisticated, targeted attacks on them personally. That could include world leaders, but it also includes high-value targets like journalists, influencers, stars, and activists.

At the same time Apple is donating $10 million “to support organizations that investigate, expose, and prevent highly targeted cyberattacks.” Apple will also donate any damage it wins in its lawsuit against the NSO Group, a well-known cyber intelligence and security group that makes spyware such as Pegasus.

The $10 million is goin to the Dignity and Justice Fund b the Ford Foundation.

“The global spyware trade targets human rights defenders, journalists, and dissidents; it facilitates violence, reinforces authoritarianism, and supports political repression,” said Lori McGlinchey, a Ford Foundation’s director for its Technology and Society program.

Lockdown Mode will be available in iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and MacOS Ventura.


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