Apple Announces New Lockdown Mode for iPhone to Fight Hacking

Apple Announces New Lockdown Mode for iPhone to Fight Hacking

Apple has positioned the iPhone, iPad, and Mac as the most private and secure products available for years. It strengthened that effort on Wednesday by announcing a new feature called Lockdown Mode that will be available this fall. Lockdown Mode is made to thwart targeted attack attempts like the Pegasus malware, which repressive governments are alleged to have used against human rights advocates, attorneys, politicians, and journalists. In order to promote more investigation into these dangers, he also disclosed a $10 million grant and a bug bounty program worth up to $2 million.

In addition to restricting attachments and previewing links in messages, surfing technology can potentially be hacked, and FaceTime calls from incoming calls from unknown numbers, according to the tech giants, the lock mode is intended to give further protection to their phones. Additionally, customers cannot install new remote management software on locked Apple devices, and the devices won't accept accessory connections until they are unlocked. In the fall, the new capability will be made freely available to the general public after being made available to beta software used by developers this summer.

"While the vast majority of users will never be the victims of highly targeted cyberattacks, we will work tirelessly to protect the small number of users who are," said Ivan Krstić, Apple's head of security engineering and architecture, in a statement. "Lockdown Mode is a groundbreaking capability that reflects our unwavering commitment to protecting users from even the rarest, most sophisticated attacks."

Along with the new lockout, which Apple describes as an "extreme" measure, the company also announced a $10 million donation to the Ford Foundation's Dignity and Justice Foundation in support of people's rights and the fight against social oppression.

The business is making an attempt to make its products more secure at a time when the tech sector is increasingly being targeted by hackers from oppressive governments all over the world. gender. Attacks like those utilizing Pegasus are intended to gather silent intelligence as opposed to generic ransomware or virus operations, which frequently aim to spread indiscriminately the farthest and fastest over private and business networks.

Last September, Apple sent out a free software update affecting Pegasus,  then  sued NSO Group in an attempt to prevent the company from developing or selling other hacking tools. It has also begun sending "threat notifications" to potential victims of these hacking tools, which Apple calls "spyware for hire". The company says that while the number of people targeted in these campaigns is  small, it has notified people in about 150 countries as of November, 

Other tech companies have also opened up. broadened their security approach in recent years. Google has an initiative called Advanced Account Protection, which is designed for "anyone at high risk of targeted online attacks" by adding extra layers of security to information. login and download. Microsoft is increasingly trying to crack passwords.

In addition to announcing a bug bounty of $2 million for people who discover security holes in the new feature, Apple stated that it aims to gradually expand the lock mode. At the moment, its major purpose is to disable computer capabilities that might be helpful but expose users to threats. This consists of blocking specific typefaces and previewing.

iPhone Lockdown Mode
Source: Apple

iPhone Lockdown Mode
Source: Apple

According to an Apple representative, the business is attempting to find a balance between usability and strict security measures, and it is also openly dedicated to enhancing and boosting functionality. Apps that show web pages will be subject to the same limitations as Apple's apps in the most recent iteration of Lock Mode, which is being delivered to developers in a future experimental software update. However, users can pre-approve specific websites to bypass lock mode if necessary. Before connecting to accessories, users whose devices are in locked mode must unlock them.

Additionally, Apple said it hopes a  $10 million grant planned for the Dignity and Justice Foundation will help encourage more research into these issues and expand safety training and testing. to potentially targeted people. 

"Every day we see these threats broadening and deepening," said Lori McGlinchey, director of the Ford Foundation's Technology and Society program, who is working with technical advisers including Apple's Krstić to help direct the fund. "In recent years, state and non-state actors have used spyware to track and intimidate human rights defenders, environmental activists and political dissidents in virtually every region of the world."

Ron Deibert,  professor of political science and director of cybersecurity researchers Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, said he expects the lockdown regime will help Apple deal a 'strong blow' to spyware companies and the governments that depend on their products.

"We're doing all we can, alongside a number of investigative journalists working this beat, but that's been it, and that's a huge asymmetry," he said, adding that Apple's $10 million grant will help attract more work toward this issue. "You have an enormous industry that's very lucrative and almost entirely unregulated, profiting from huge contracts from governments that have an appetite to engage in this type of espionage."