The Morning After: Apple's Lockdown Mode will fend off cyberattacks on high-profile users

The feature is for a 'very small number of users.’

NurPhoto via Getty Images

Apple has announced Lockdown Mode, an "extreme" level of security designed for a "very small number of users who face grave, targeted threats." It’ll be available this fall. The company says it created Lockdown Mode to protect high-profile people who, because of their status or job, might be personally targeted by malware developed by the likes of NSO Group, which is behind Pegasus, or other state-backed groups. Switching on Lockdown Mode will severely restrict the functions of an iPhone, iPad or Mac to limit possible entry points for spyware.

Alongside this, Apple plans to expand its Security Bounty program. Researchers who find weaknesses in Lockdown Mode and help Apple make it more secure will be eligible for rewards of up to $2 million. Apple sued the NSO Group last year to "hold it accountable" for states that target and spy on its users.

It’s part of several security features Apple’s teeing up for its operating systems this year. iOS 16 will automatically install security fixes, while the company claims its passkeys offer increased safeguards against phishing attempts and data breaches. Even on the physical front, USB-C devices will have to ask for permission to send data in macOS Ventura.

Given all the cybersecurity issues we’ve reported on in the last few years, these are probably all good things.

— Mat Smith

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