Apple Announces Lockdown Mode to Counter Government Spyware Attacks

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On Wednesday, Apple said it will introduce a new “lockdown mode” for its upcoming iPhone and Mac software that will disable certain features aimed at helping targeted individuals fight state-level spyware.

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The tech giant said the new feature represents “extreme extra protection” for device owners that are more likely to be targeted by states that use powerful spyware, such as journalists, activists and human rights activists.

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The function appears after years of recurring and successful attacks targeting thousands of iPhone users around the world. Spyware makers such as NSO Group, Candiru, and Cytrox create exploits that breach device security to inject spyware on behalf of their government clients. Apple tends to release security updates for its devices quickly, but a larger effort to protect its iPhone security vulnerabilities from similar vulnerabilities was not always successful.

Security researchers say it’s not uncommon for state-level spyware to read messages, call logs, upload photos, secretly record a device’s microphone and phone calls, take photos with the phone’s camera, access victim passwords, and track the phone’s location in real time. .

Screenshot showing the iOS lock mode in iOS 16.

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Screenshot showing what lock mode will look like in iOS 16. Image Credits: Apple (provided)

When “Lockdown Mode” is deployed, those exposed to targeted hacking attempts can immediately disable a number of features, such as restricting what code can run in apps and websites, and significantly restrict other areas of Apple software. such as iMessage and FaceTimewhich were used by spyware makers to create exploits that could inject spyware onto the iPhone.

Block mode will also prevent installation on iPhone and Mac. configuration profilescommonly used by organizations to deploy settings and protections across multiple device fleets, but also abused consumer grade spyware monitor and secretly download the contents of the victim’s devices. Wired connections are also blocked when blocking mode is enabled, preventing hardware forensic tools from downloading device data.

AT MailApple said the new blocking feature “further strengthens device security and severely restricts certain features, drastically reducing the attack surface that can potentially be exploited by highly targeted spyware for hire.”

Apple said the feature will come to iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura, which are scheduled to release later this year. along with the new iPhones from Apple.


Credit: techcrunch.com /

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