Apple has introduced an additional layer of security coming to iOS 16, called Lockdown Mode. The company based in Cupertino, California announced the new extreme cybersecurity feature on July 6 with the goal of protecting people at risk of being attacked by a targeted mercenary spy.
Lockdown Mode is an optional feature that not every iPhone user will need, but would most likely be used by politicians, activists, celebrities, and other public figures who fear they are targeted by spyware created by private companies. This includes the likes of NSO Group, which was prosecuted last fall for using Pegasus to hack the phones of political figures worldwide – including the widow of the late Saudi Arabian dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and Spain’s prime minister, as well as dozens of journalists. .
“Although the vast majority of users will never be victims of highly targeted cyberattacks, we will work tirelessly to protect the small number of users,” said Ivan Krstić, head of Apple’s Security Engineering and Architecture. “That includes continuing to design defenses specifically for these users, and also supporting researchers and organizations around the world doing important work to expose mercenary companies that are creating these digital attacks.”
When Lockdown Mode is enabled, it limits the functionality of the iPhone to make it invulnerable against attacks. It blocks any message attachments other than pictures, disables preview links, blocks FaceTime calls from unknown contacts, and prevents wired connections to a computer or accessory when the iPhone is locked – among other things.
Apple is also donating $ 10 million to the Dignity and Justice Foundation to strengthen research on improving cybersecurity, as well as to investigate and prevent highly targeted cyber attacks. Any additional research money will come from the damages given by the ongoing lawsuit against NSO Group.