Manzana detailed this Wednesday, July 6, 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 that develop spyware State-sponsored mercenary. Lockdown mode, the first major capability of its kind, coming this fall with iOS 16iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura, is optional, extreme protection for the very small number of users facing serious, targeted threats to their digital security.
Ivan Krstić, head of Apple’s Security Architecture and Engineering, explained:
“Lockdown Mode is an innovative capability that reflects our unwavering commitment to protecting users from even the rarest and most sophisticated attacks. While the vast majority of users will never fall victim to highly targeted cyberattacks, we will work tirelessly to protect the small number of users who do. That includes continuing to design defenses specifically for these users, as well as supporting researchers and organizations around the world doing critically important work to expose the mercenary companies creating these digital attacks.”
At launch, lockdown mode includes the following protections:
- Messages: Most message attachment types other than images are blocked. Some features, like link previews, are disabled.
- Apple Services: Incoming service requests and invitations, including FaceTime calls, are blocked if the user has not previously sent the initiator a call or request.
- Wired connections to a computer or accessory are blocked when iPhone is locked.
- Configuration profiles cannot be installed and the device cannot enroll in mobile device management (MDM) while lockdown mode is enabled.
Apple also shared details about the $10 million cybersecurity grant it announced last November to support civil society organizations conducting research and defense against mercenary spyware threats.