In a move to further its commitment to provide users security from highly targeted mercenary spyware, Apple is previewing its groundbreaking security capability called the Apple Lockdown mode. The new capability will provide users with enhanced protection from the risk of highly sophisticated cyber attacks from state-sponsored mercenary spyware. The company has also announced its $10 million cybersecurity grant to support civil society organizations that conduct research and advocacy to expose mercenary spyware threats.
What is the Apple Lockdown Mode?
As per Apple, Lockdown mode provides extreme protection on an optional basis only to individuals who are at the threat of a highly targeted cyber attack. First, of its kind, this optional protection mode is designed for the very small number of users whose digital security is suspected to face grave, targeted threats.
The Lockdown Mode which is among the two initiatives by Apple to protect individuals will be coming this fall with iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura. This groundbreaking capability from the manufacturer of the most secure mobile devices in the market reflects their commitment to protecting the small number of users who can be the victims of the most sophisticated and rarest cyber threats.
Who will benefit from Lockdown Mode?
Lockdown Mode will benefit very few users of iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura who may be personally targeted by highly sophisticated digital threats from NSO Group and other private companies developing state-sponsored mercenary spyware. This mode sharply reduces potential attack surfaces by enabling a higher level of device defenses and strictly limits certain functionalities.
What will the new Apple Lockdown Mode have to offer?
In its initial phase, Lockdown Mode will include protections for messages, web browsing and Apple services. This capability will block an iPhone’s wired connectivity with a computer or accessory when it is locked. Turning on Lockdown Mode disables options such as installation of configuration profiles, and enrolling into mobile device management (MDM). The new Lockdown Mode capability will be displayed on the iPhone screen, asking whether the user wants to turn it on.
The Lockdown Mode will be strengthened over time adding new protection layers to it. Apple has established a new category with the Apple Security Bounty program to invite feedback and collaborations from the security research community and those who find Lockdown Mode bypasses and help improve its protections will be rewarded up to $2,000,000 which is the highest maximum bounty payout in the industry.
The relevance of the Lockdown Mode will be huge with several research groups stating the undeniably evident spread of authoritarian practices and massive human rights abuses facilitated by the mercenary surveillance industry worldwide. The Lockdown Mode along with the important cybersecurity grant is a strong message to nurture independent researchers and advocacy organizations fighting against mercenary spyware vendors.
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