Apple's new 'lockdown' mode: Here's what it is and how it will work

Edited By: Moohita Kaur Garg
New Delhi, India Updated: Jul 07, 2022, 03:24 PM(IST)

Companies who sell such spyware have argued that they do it to help governments combat threats to national security. However, human rights organisations and journalists have frequently shown how spyware is used to target civil society, stifle political dissent, and meddle in elections. Photograph:( Reuters )

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The new feature will protect against "zero click" hacking tactics. As per an Apple representative still very uncommon and most users won't even need to activate the new mode

Hellbent on protecting its user’s privacy, Apple in a big update is planning to release a "Lockdown Mode" this fall. As per Apple Inc, this will add a new layer of protection for the frequent targets of sophisticated hacking attacks: human rights advocates, political dissidents etc. The move comes after it was discovered that two Israeli firms exploited flaws in Apple's software to remotely break into iPhones that too without the target even clicking or tapping on a malicious link. When enabled, this mode will block most attachments sent to the iPhone's Messages app. Security experts think NSO Group took advantage of a weakness in the way Apple handled communication attachments.

'Pegasus' a snooping software by the NSO Group is one such spyware that can carry out such attacks. The maker has been sued by Apple and has been placed on a trade blacklist by US officials.

Watch | China’s data breach of over 1 billion people: Key details

The new feature will protect against "zero click" hacking tactics. As per an Apple representative still very uncommon and most users won't even need to activate the new mode.

Companies who sell such spyware have argued that they do it to help governments combat threats to national security.

Also read | Pegasus snooping effect: Apple to alert users whenever iPhones get hacked by spyware

However, human rights organisations and journalists have frequently shown how spyware is used to target civil society, stifle political dissent, and meddle in elections.

Apple has also promised that it will pay up to $2 million for each vulnerability that security researchers can uncover in the new mode, which will help strengthen the feature. According to Apple representatives, this is the greatest "bug bounty" available in the market.

Also read | Apple and Meta give user data to hackers who pretended to be enforcement officials: Report

The company also said that it would donate $10 million to organisations that identify, expose, and seek to stop targeted hacking, in addition to any potential settlement funds from its legal action against NSO Group. The grant, according to Apple, would go to the Ford Foundation's Dignity and Justice Fund, one of the biggest private foundations in the country.

(With inputs from agencies)

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