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Apple’s new iOS 16 Lockdown Mode is powerful security – but there’s a catch

When Apple’s iOS 16 arrives this fall, it will also be Apple’s most powerful security setting ever: Lockdown Mode.

The new Security Mode, which will also appear in macOS Ventura and iPadOS 16, isn’t for everyone. In fact, you might argue, it’s about a select few: those who believe they can be targeted by state-sponsored cybersecurity attacks. In other words, this is a program for the President of the United States. It could also be for the head of a local energy authority, a water treatment plant, or a journalist covering the war in Ukraine. And thanks to Apple, it seems anyone has an iPhone.

Lockdown Mode is Apple’s hardcore new approach to security that, when enabled on the iPhone, will offer five major protections, any of which may make your iPhone less useful and fun, but also, seemingly, more secure.

This protection includes:

  • Most types of message attachments other than images are blocked and link previews are disabled.
  • In Safari, some web technologies are disabled, including JavaScript just-in-time (JIT) compilation. Although you can exclude a trusted site from lockout mode.
  • Disables or blocks some Apple services such as incoming FaceTime call requests from unknown callers (those where you did not previously initiate a Facetime call)
  • Wired connections to a computer or an accessory are blocked when the iPhone is locked.
  • You cannot install configuration profiles and you will not be able to enroll the device in Mobile Device Manager (MDM) when lock mode is enabled.

Together, all of these things can drastically reduce the attack methods on your iPhone, and on your iPad and Mac, if you enable them on those systems as well.

In a release about Lockdown Mode, Apple says that adding all three platforms to the security matrix “further strengthen device defenses and strictly limit certain functions, significantly reducing the attack surface that can be exploited by highly targeted mercenary spyware.”

While this level of restricted access may seem like overkill to the average consumer or businessman, many people will find this mode of locking useful, including those whose phones connect to a variety of apps, services, government and law enforcement contacts, and infrastructure , human rights groups, and news reports.

Apple has a goal

Last year, Apple informed thousands of iPhone users, including government officials, that they had been targeted by “state-sponsored attackers”. In November 2021, Apple sued NSO (Opens in a new tab)the company it believed was responsible for creating the monitoring programme, which the NSO denied.

However, Apple links this security initiative to that fight, noting that in addition to Lockdown Mode — which is clearly designed to harden the iPhone against potential NSO-like attacks — it’s offering a $10 million grant (and adding any money you get) outside the NSO lawsuit. ) to me Dignity and Justice Fund.

In a press release announcing the Lockdown situation, Lori McGlinchey, director of the Technology and Society Program at the Ford Foundation, noted that global spyware targets “human rights defenders, journalists, and dissidents,” and that her organization is “proud to support this extraordinary initiative to advance civil society research and advocacy to resist programs.” mercenary espionage.”

Apple iOS 16 قفل Lock Mode (Image credit: Apple)

Lockdown Mode arrived as a surprise because it wasn’t announced or even teased at WWDC 2022. Plus it’s a rare piece of Apple system programming that purposely lacks broad appeal.

“While the vast majority of users will not be victims of highly targeted cyber attacks, we will work tirelessly to protect the small number of users,” Ivan Krstic, Apple’s head of security architecture and architecture, noted in the statement.

For those who work on the front lines of human rights, Lockdown Mode may be a low-cost and effective way to protect their phones. It might be a little too very restrictive; There is a possibility that it will be more effective in an official capacity.

In the past, government officials, including the US President, have been handed highly specialized and secure phones, although there have been some reports Keep using their personal iPhone (Opens in a new tab). iOS 16 Lock Mode might be a way to give administrators their iPhone cake, while also eating securely.

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