Apple Introduces New iPhone ‘Lock Mode’ Feature to Fight Hackers

Tech giant Apple has unveiled a “groundbreaking” and “extreme” new feature that will be rolled out over the course of several months.

Tech giant Apple has unveiled a new “extreme” measure designed to protect iPhone, iPad and Mac users from “sophisticated digital threats”.

In an announcement early Thursday morning AU time, Apple introduced a new “Lockout Mode” designed to protect users who could be targeted by hackers.

The lockdown mode, which will be launched in the coming months, “represents extreme additional protection for a very small number of users who face serious targeted threats to their digital security.”

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“Apple makes the most secure mobile devices on the market. Lockdown Mode is a groundbreaking feature that reflects our unwavering commitment to protecting users from even the rarest and most sophisticated attacks,” Ivan Krstic, head of security and architecture at Apple, said in a statement.

“While the vast majority of users will never be targeted by cyberattacks, we will work tirelessly to protect the small number of users who are victims.

“This includes continuing to develop protections specifically for these users, as well as supporting researchers and organizations around the world doing the critical work of exposing the mercenary companies behind these digital attacks.”

Apple said the lockdown would help specific users, such as journalists, human rights activists, or political dissidents, who could become a “personal target” for companies developing state-sponsored spyware for mercenaries, such as the NSO Group, which created Pegasus Software which can carry out digital attacks and which has been linked to several major hacker scandals.

It came after two Israeli companies exploited weaknesses in Apple’s software to hack the iPhone, in response, Apple sued the NSO Group, and the firm was blacklisted from trading.

According to Apple, the inclusion of Lockdown Mode in iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura “further strengthens device security and severely restricts certain features, drastically reducing the attack surface that can potentially be exploited by highly targeted spyware for hire.”

It will work by blocking most attachments sent to the iPhone’s Messages app, disabling some complex web technologies, and blocking incoming invitations and service requests unless the user has previously sent a challenge or request to the originator.

The digital giant also announced a $2 million reward for researchers who find a way to bypass the lockdown to further tighten security measures.

Apple is also providing a $10 million grant to support organizations that investigate, expose, and prevent highly targeted cyberattacks, including those created by private companies developing state-sponsored spyware.

Originally published as Apple releases new ‘lock mode’ feature for iPhone due to hacker attack