Apple Announces Lockdown Mode in iOS 16 – Protect Your Privacy

Apple Lockdown Mode
Apple Lockdown Mode

On Wednesday, Apple announces Lockdown Mode in iOS 16. It helps to protect Mac, iPhones, and iPad from malicious activities.

Lockdown Mode — coming this season with iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura — is an extreme, optional protection for specific users who face cyberthreats to their digital security.

In a new security feature, Apple is allowing users to choose additional safeguards against highly targeted cyberattacks that might be perpetrated by private companies developing malicious mercenary software.

Additionally, most message attachment types other than images have been blocked, and link previews in Messages. Just-in-time compilation of JavaScript has been rendered inoperative, support for shared albums has been removed from Photos, and FaceTime calls from unknown numbers have been blocked.

“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 Krstić, 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.”

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.
  • Web browsing: Certain complex web technologies, like just-in-time (JIT) JavaScript compilation, are disabled 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 global spyware trade targets human rights defenders, journalists, and dissidents; it facilitates violence, reinforces authoritarianism, and supports political repression,” said Lori McGlinchey, the Ford Foundation’s director of its Technology and Society program. “The Ford Foundation is proud to support this extraordinary initiative to bolster civil society research and advocacy to resist mercenary spyware. We must build on Apple’s commitment, and we invite companies and donors to join the Dignity and Justice Fund and bring additional resources to this collective fight.”

Advanced Account Protection from Google and Facebook Protect from Meta offers to protect accounts from takeover attempts for people at an “elevated risk of targeted cyber attacks.”

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