Apple’s “Lockdown Mode” defends users from focused malware attacks.

by | Aug 3, 2023

A new feature that Apple has shown off promises to protect high-risk consumers from the real possibility of being surveilled by adversary governments and intelligence services.

When Apple iOS 16 and macOS Ventura are released later this year, “Lockdown Mode” is expected to be available as well. It’s an optional feature for customers who think there’s a serious chance that sophisticated state-sponsored malware may attack their computers and devices.

Apple admits that their security technology is “extreme” and is unlikely to ever be needed by anybody other than a very small portion of its users. “The iPhone won’t operate normally while it’s in Lockdown Mode. For security reasons, there will be stringent restrictions on apps, websites, and services, and certain activities won’t be available at all.

Ivan Krsti , Apple’s head of Security Engineering and Architecture, said: “While the great majority of users will never be the victims of highly targeted cyberattacks, we will work hard to defend the tiny number of people who are.” That involves continuing to devise safeguards tailored for these users and supporting academics and groups working tirelessly to expose mercenary firms behind these cyberattacks.

Even while there may not be many political activists, attorneys, journalists, or diplomats who may be the target of mercenary malware, their hacking could have serious repercussions.

Apple almost admits in their release that turning on “Lockdown Mode” will drastically restrict your device’s functioning in a number of ways; nevertheless, this has the advantage of lowering the attack surface, which reduces the opportunity for tailored malware to exploit your phone or computer.

  • Apple claims that “Lockdown Mode” would first impose the following restrictions on devices:
  • Messages: All attachment types besides photos are restricted. Link previews are one of the functions that is deactivated.
  • Web browsing: Unless the user eliminates a trusted site from Lockdown Mode, several advanced web technologies, such as just-in-time (JIT) JavaScript compilation, are blocked.
  • Apple services: If the user has not already made a call or requested a service from the initiator, incoming invitations and requests, including FaceTime calls, are blocked.

When iPhone is locked, wired connections to a computer or device are disabled.

While Lockdown Mode is on, configuration profiles cannot be loaded and the device cannot be enrolled in mobile device management (MDM).

Apple claims it will continue to improve “Lockdown Mode” and is giving researchers a bug reward of up to $2,000,000 if they can figure out a method to get around its protection.

Apple also claims that it would provide a $10 million grant (in addition to any monetary awards made in the lawsuit brought against the contentious Israeli spyware firm NSO Group) to organisations that research, expose, and stop highly targeted assaults.

Now, all eyes are on Google to see if it will offer extra security safeguards to Android users who would be in the same danger as their iPhone-owning relatives.