by Jason Snell
Apple introduces ‘Lockdown Mode’
This is a fascinating announcement of a feature of iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura that wasn’t previewed at WWDC:
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
Are you a candidate to use Lockdown Mode? You probably know it if you are. It’s primarily for a very small group of people who are journalists, dissidents, or people in positions of power who are targeted—usually by state actors. These are “the most sophisticated digital threats,” Apple says, “such as those from NSO Group and other private companies developing state-sponsored mercenary spyware.”
Apple calls the feature “extreme,” and it is. Among its features:
- Messages attachments are limited to images and link previews are blocked
Incoming Apple service requests (like FaceTime) are blocked if you don’t have a previous call history with the person making the request.
When iPhones are locked, all wired connections are blocked.
No configuration profiles or MDM are allowed.
Apple is also ratcheting up its security bounty program and increasing the grant money it’s offering to combat this sort of spyware.
I love that Apple’s doing this. This is a feature that almost nobody will use, but the truth is that high-risk people want to use Apple devices too. The iPhone is widely considered a safe and secure smartphone, but it’s still got areas that hackers can attack—and closing off some of those areas can degrade the user experience. Lockdown Mode allows users to make the trade-off between degrading their overall experience…and keeping them safe.