Today, Apple Inc. showcased its newest security feature that automatically locks down system functionalities in the case of a possible hijacking during “highly targeted cyberattacks.”
The feature is called Lockdown Mode. Apple has described the feature to be a “groundbreaking security capability.” It’ll offer specialized protection to the users who’re at risk from cyberattacks launched by private companies that are developing state-sponsored spyware.
The targeted audience so far is very small and only those who face grave danger or threats to their digital security are recommended to use the feature.
The Lockdown Mode will be available in macOS Ventura, iPadOS 16, and iOS 16 and provides the finest security. If you’re to enable the feature, it’ll block most email attachments except for images. It’s also capable of blocking link previews. A few web technologies, along with just-in-time Java compilation are also disabled.
Unless or until you whitelist a trusted site, it may get blocked automatically if found threatening by the Lockdown Mode.
While using Apple services, requests, invites, and even FaceTime calls from unknown numbers are also blocked unless you’ve personally initiated a call or request previously. iPhone accessories or wired connections are also halted if your iPhone is locked. Enrolling a device into a mobile management device and installing configuration profiles isn’t possible if Lockdown Mode is enabled.
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. While the vast majority of users will never be the victims of highly targeted cyberattacks, we will work tirelessly to protect the small number of users who are.”
Although, Apple pitched the idea in general terms, they didn’t back down from taking names of whom the feature’s really targeting. They went on to cite NSO Group Ltd, an Israeli spyware maker.
NSO Group is known for being one of the most controversial cybersecurity companies as of late. The group has been quite notorious for coming up with Pegasus spyware, a software capable of bugging mobile phones using unpatched exploits or zero-day. It has the ability to infiltrate mobile phones without any user actions and infect most Android and iOS devices.
Pegasus has been successful in exploiting phones in the past and Apple has tried to address the matter of “Forcedentry” in vain. The NSO Group has a reputation to uphold for the reason that their company continues to come up with ways for Pegasus to force its way into devices, or specifically iPhones.
In the past, NSO Group has utilized Pegasus and similar spyware packages to send unsolicited messages in hopes of gaining unauthorized access to a certain device. In multiple cases, the messages don’t even have to be read. That’s where Lockdown Mode steps in to save the day. It blocks such malicious messages before they can unleash a script to take over the phone.
Apple will be marketing Lockdown Mode to the public in the fall of this year.