Apple Details Lockdown Mode With Groundbreaking Security Capability

apple lockdown mode

Apple has given us a preview of the new Lockdown Mode that will be coming toOS 16, iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura. This feature offers groundbreaking security to protect users targeted by some of the most sophisticated spyware.

Lockdown Mode in iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura

According to Apple, lockdown mode “is an extreme, optional protection for the very small number of users who face grave, targeted threats to their digital security.” The optional security feature aims to protect the small number of people highly targeted by cyberattacks. Apple’s head of Security Engineering and Architecture Ivan Krstić said aside from protecting those victims of these cyberattacks, Apple will also continue to design defenses for those users and support researchers and organizations which continuously expose mercenary companies that initiate such acts.

As mentioned, Lockdown Mode will be one of the many new features in iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura. Lockdown Mode offers an optional level of security. Apple said that it enabled the feature in the third developer betas of the three operating systems.

Enabling iOS 16 Lockdown Mode

By default, Apple set the Lockdown Mode to off. It can be enabled in the Privacy & Security section of the Settings or System Settings app. Once activated, users can deactivate it at any time. Take note that activating or deactivating Lockdown Mode requires restarting the device.

What It Will Provide Upon Launch

Apple states Lockdown Mode will feature the following protections upon launch:

  • In messaging, Apple blocks most message attachments other than images and disables some features like link previews.
  • In web browsing: Lockdown Mode disables certain complex web technologies, like just-in-time (JIT) JavaScript compilation, unless the user excludes a trusted site from Lockdown Mode.
  • Apple services will block Incoming invitations and service requests, including FaceTime calls, if the user has not previously sent the initiator a call or request.
  • Locking the iPhone will block wired connections with a computer or accessory.
  • Configuration profiles cannot be installed, and the device cannot enroll into mobile device management (MDM) while Lockdown Mode is turned on.

Apple also said that it will continue to strengthen Lockdown Mode and add new protections later on. Those involved with security research may send feedback and propose collaborations with Apple. The Cupertino tech giant will reward researchers who find Lockdown Mode bypasses and help improve the feature. Additionally, Apple has created a new category within the Apple Security Bounty program for this purpose. It will reward qualifying findings about Lockdown Mode with up to a maximum of $2 million in bounty.

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W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

Arnold:

The dichotomy between Apple taking this extreme measure whilst simultaneously the EU and other world legislatures are insisting on Apple opening up their operating systems to third party developers is a chasm that dwarfs the Valles Marineris

Lockdown Mode is a great feature. It is also a necessary one, which should alert any well-intentioned lawmaker to reconsider any measures that could weaken platform security and expose the vulnerable to unthinkable harm.