iPhone, iPad, and Mac users can now use Apple’s ‘Lockdown Mode’ to manage spyware attacks

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Apple is working on a new feature that will be referred to as “Lockdown Mode,” and it will be released with the intention of providing an additional layer of safety for human rights activists, political dissidents, and other individuals who are the targets of sophisticated cyber assaults.

The disclosure, which took place on Wednesday, comes after it was discovered that at least two Israeli companies had used vulnerabilities in Apple’s software to remotely hack into iPhones without the target having to click or press anything. 

Officials in the United States have placed NSO Group on a trade blacklist and sued the company over its “Pegasus” software, which may be used to launch such attacks.

This fall, Apple’s iPhones, iPads, and Macs will all be able to use “Lockdown Mode,” which prevents most attachments from being received through the Messages app on an iPhone.

Although “the vast majority of customers will never be the victims of highly targeted assaults,” said Ivan Krsti, Apple’s chief security engineer and architect, “we will work hard to defend the small number of people who are,” added Krsti.

Additionally, we’ll continue to support academics and organizations around the world that are exposing the mercenary corporations that produce these digital attacks, and we’ll continue to construct defenses specifically for these users.

Also read: Apple has released a new version of firmware for the Siri Remote

How ‘Lockdown Mode’ works

Activating Lockdown Mode prevents the installation of new configuration profiles or enrollment in mobile device management services, as well as prevents the installation of new message attachment types, disabling link previews, and switching off specific web surfing capabilities (MDM).

The new mode will also prevent wired connections to iPhones when they are locked. Both Celebrate and NSO Group are suspected by security experts of exploiting a weakness in the way Apple handles message attachments in order to gain access to iPhones via manual connections.

As far as Apple representatives are concerned, sophisticated “zero-click” hacking techniques, which this feature is designed to combat, remain extremely rare, and most users won’t need to activate the new mode.

In the past, spyware vendors have claimed that they sell high-tech tools to help the government fight national security concerns. The use of spyware to harm civil society, damage political opposition, and meddle in elections has been recorded by human rights groups and journalists on several occasions.

According to Apple reps, this is the greatest “bug bounty” provided in the industry to help protect the new mode, which they say will pay up to $2 million (€1.95 million) for each fault that security experts can uncover.

Apple has also announced a grant of $10 million (€9.8 million) to groups that identify, expose, and act to prevent targeted hacking, plus any prospective proceeds from its case against NSO Group.

Apple has announced that the contribution will go to the Ford Foundation’s Dignity and Justice Fund, one of the largest private organizations in the United States.

Also read: Phone business strategy may be changed by Apple in order to increase profits

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