Apple expands industry-leading commitment to protect users
from highly targeted mercenary spyware
Apple today detailed two initiatives to help protect users
who may be personally targeted by some of the most
sophisticated digital threats, such as those from private
companies developing state-sponsored mercenary spyware.
Lockdown Mode - the first major capability of its kind,
coming this fall with iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura -
is an extreme, optional protection for the very small number
of users who face grave, targeted threats to their digital
security. Apple also shared details about the $10 million
cybersecurity grant it announced last November to support
civil society organizations that conduct mercenary spyware
threat research and advocacy.
"Apple makes the most secure mobile devices on the market.
Lockdown Mode is a groundbreaking capability that reflects
our unwavering commitment to protecting users from even the
rarest, most sophisticated attacks," said Ivan Krstic,
Apple's head of Security Engineering and Architecture.
"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. That includes
continuing to design defenses specifically for these users,
as well as supporting researchers and organizations around
the world doing critically important work in exposing
mercenary companies that create these digital attacks."
Lockdown Mode offers an extreme, optional level of security
for the very few users who, because of who they are or what
they do, may be personally targeted by some of the most
sophisticated digital threats, such as those from NSO Group
and other private companies developing state-sponsored
mercenary spyware. Turning on Lockdown Mode in iOS 16,
iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura further hardens device defenses
and strictly limits certain functionalities, sharply
reducing the attack surface that potentially could be
exploited by highly targeted mercenary spyware.
At launch, Lockdown Mode includes the following protections:
Messages: Most message attachment types other than images
are blocked. Some features, like link previews, are
Web browsing: Certain complex web technologies, like
unless the user excludes a trusted site from Lockdown Mode.
Apple services: Incoming invitations and service requests,
including FaceTime calls, are blocked if the user has not
previously sent the initiator a call or request.
Wired connections with a computer or accessory are blocked
when iPhone is locked.
Configuration profiles cannot be installed, and the device
cannot enroll into mobile device management (MDM), while
Lockdown Mode is turned on.
The iPhone Has A New Lockdown Feature You Need To Know About
Apple has a reputation for providing top-tier privacy and
security on all its products. So, when the news broke that
iPhones were targeted earlier this year by a powerful
spyware sold to nation-states, we knew it'd only be a matter
of time before Apple swung into action. And swing into
action they did.
Apple not only sued the Israeli-based spyware firm, NSO
Group, which was responsible for the Pegasus spyware attack,
but they also included a new feature to amp up security on
iPhones. Apple is calling the superhero feature "Lockdown
Mode" and it's an "extreme, optional" security resort (via
Apple), since spyware like Pegasus only targets a
hyper-specific set of users. These include dissidents,
lawyers, journalists, human-rights workers, and politicians.