New ‘Lockdown Mode’ Coming to iOS 16 and MacOS 13 Ventura

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. Apple also shared details about the $10 million cybersecurity grant it announced last November to support civil society organizations that conduct mercenary spyware threat research and advocacy. […]

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.

Interesting list of features that will be restricted — this almost certainly maps directly to the known sources of vulnerabilities that have been exploited by NSO Group and Grayshift’s GrayLock device. Good to see Apple increasing its bounties for vulnerabilities reported in these areas, and the $10 million grant as well.

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