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iOS 16's Lockdown Mode Protects Your Phone From Spies

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Jul 6, 2022, 3:28 PM   by Rich Brome   @rbrome

Apple has revealed a new feature in iOS 16 aimed at "the very few users who, because of who they are or what they do, may be personally targeted by some of the most sophisticated digital threats". The new Lockdown Mode disables certain features and functionality that are most commonly used by the world's most advanced "mercenary spyware" to infiltrate specific phones. Some governments purchase this expensive mercenary spyware from companies like NSO Group, and use it to hack into phones of journalists, activists, rival politicians, and officials of foreign governments. At launch, Lockdown modes will disable most message attachments, link previews, certain complex web technologies (like just-in-time JavaScript compilation), wired connections when iPhone is locked, configuration profiles, and mobile device management (MDM). It will also block incoming invitations and service requests, including FaceTime calls, if the user has not previously sent the initiator a call or request. Apple is also creating a new bug bounty category for anyone who can bypass Lockdown Mode, with bounties of up to $2 million, the highest maximum bounty payout in the industry. Finally, Apple is making a $10 million grant "to support organizations that investigate, expose, and prevent highly targeted cyberattacks, including those created by private companies developing state-sponsored mercenary spyware." The grant is being made via the Dignity and Justice Fund, established and advised by the Ford Foundation.

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