Identifying and preventing mercenary spyware is quite difficult. State-sponsored commercial firms create this cyber threat to specifically target journalists, human rights activists, and others in high-risk professions. Finally, with the introduction of Lockdown Mode in iOS 16, consumers have the choice to strengthen their device’s security against these kinds of attacks.
NSO’s Pegasus is one example of the sophisticated hacks regularly used to breach high-profile targets like Jeff Bezos. Because they can be installed remotely, don’t necessitate any action on the part of the target, and collect a vast amount of rich data in a short length of time, they are extremely dangerous.
Apple’s response to these kinds of attacks is called Lockdown, and it involves disabling everything on your phone or computer save the absolute necessities.
What Exactly Is Apple’s Lockdown Mode?
New in macOS Ventura, iOS 16, and iPadOS 16 is an optional setting called Lockdown Mode, which restricts access to Apple’s operating system and apps. It restricts your device’s capabilities in order to block the most common entry points used by cybercriminals to get access to your phone or computer.
Here’s how Your iPhone Is Affected by Lockdown Mode as Of This Writing:
When Lockdown Mode is enabled in the Messages app, only photos can be sent as attachments. Previews of links and other features are also disabled.
Requests from services like FaceTime will be blocked unless you actively request them.
When an iPhone is locked, it cannot be connected to a computer or other device through a cable.
Even installing configuration profiles is disabled in Lockdown Mode. This is a common method for enrolling enterprise devices in mobile device management (MDM) and downloading Apple beta versions.
While none of these measures may seem overly restrictive at first, they could prove to be decisive in the face of a cyberattack. Consider the infamous Pegasus spyware as an illustration. To gain access to iPhones in 2019, Pegasus took use of a newly discovered security flaw.
The attacker simply had to make a WhatsApp call to the target, and once the call was answered, Pegasus was already active and ready to hack. Once it infiltrates an iPhone, it can listen in on your calls and look through your images. However, in Lockdown Mode, requests like this are instantly rejected, completely removing the risk.
Apple’s Lockdown Mode: How To Enable It?
Lockdown Mode is currently only accessible on the iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 beta releases for the iPhone and iPad. See our tutorial on how to get the iOS 16 public beta if you can’t wait for the official, stable release later this year.
1. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of Settings > Privacy & Settings on your iPhone in order to activate Lockdown Mode.
2. To activate Lockdown Mode, go into Settings, then Security, and finally Lockdown Mode.