Apple Lockdown Mode Explained: All Your Questions About Spyware Protection On iPhones Answered

iPhone maker Apple is bringing a new “lockdown” mode on iPhone, iPad, and Mac computers. The Lockdown Mode is being launched with an aim to protect Apple users against spyware that could be launched by state-sponsored hackers.

Apple announced the ‘Lockdown Mode’ on Wednesday, where Apple acknowledged that it has not been able to adequately shield iPhone and other Apple products against intrusions from state-backed hackers and commercial spyware. Governments have used spyware tools to keep a tab on journalists, activists, opposition leaders, and others. Let us take a look at what the Lockdown Mode from Apple will do, how to use it, and limitations, if any.

WHAT IS LOCKDOWN MODE

The new feature, ‘Lockdown Mode,’ will protect Apple users against spyware that may be launched by state-backed hackers on their devices. Initially, the feature will be offered as a beta version so that security researchers so that it can help Apple identify bugs or weaknesses. Apple has said it will add new features and stronger protections to Lockdown Mode over the coming months.

Unlike the other security featues that Apple has in place for its products, the Lockdown Mode will serve as an “emergency button” that will only be needed by a small number of users. It will be considered as a last resort for people who are targeted by spyware, since activating lockdown will disable many features. Users will be able to turn Lockdown Mode on and off at will.

WHAT FEATURES WILL LOCKDOWN MODE LIMIT

Basically, Lockdown Mode will shut down all features that can be exploited by bad actors. According to Apple, when a user will turn on Lockdown Mode, most attachments in the Messages app will be blocked, and only images will be allowed. Further, features like link preview will be disabled.

Apart from this, when a user is browsing the web, some “complex web technologies, like just-in-time (JIT) JavaScript compilation, are disabled,” Apple said. Apple will also block all incoming invites, service requests, including FaceTime calls from strangers. FaceTime calls will also be blocked if the user has not previously called the person. Even wired connections with a computer or accessory will be blocked in Lockdown Mode.

WHY IS APPLE BRINGING THE LOCKDOWN MODE

While only a few countries are capable enough to have resources to be able to develop their own spyware, private companies like Israel’s NSO Group have spyware that it sells to government agencies around the world. Last year, Apple also filed a lawsuit against NSO Group for breaking into iPhones. Apple believes that an extra layer of security will prove to be valuable for activists, journalists, and other targets.