iPhone: how “Lockdown mode” (iOS 16) will revolutionize mobile security

For a long time Apple was reluctant to do anything for iPhone security other than lock down their iOS operating system as much as possible. The problem is that in recent years companies and pirate groups have shown that it is still possible to infect iPhones with sophisticated malware. We can cite in particular Pegasus, developed by the Israeli firm NSO Group, and which is used by various intelligence services for espionage purposes. The malware had caused a scandal when it was learned that the iPhone of several heads of state was also targeted.

This does not prevent Apple from still prohibiting, in 2022, antiviruses from operating unhindered on the iPhone. However, Apple has decided to take a new step to strengthen the security of its most sensitive users. This new stage is the Lockdown mode which will soon be launched in iOS 16, but also iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura. This mode allows you to lock down the operating system significantly more, even if it means reducing the number of features, so that hackers and malware makers like Pegasus have fewer options to try to circumvent security.

Why iOS 16’s “Lockdown Mode” is a step forward for iPhone security

Apple explains: “Lockdown Mode provides an optional extreme level of security for those few users who, because of who they are or what they do, are personally susceptible to some of the most sophisticated online threats. such as those developed by NSO Group and other private companies specializing in state-funded mercenary spyware”. And Apple to continue: “enable Lockdown Mode […] strengthens device defenses and severely limits certain functionality, drastically reducing the attack surface that highly targeted mercenary spyware could exploit”.

Concretely, the “Lockdown Mode” deactivates many protocols and rendering engines. For example, after activation, you will no longer be able to open pages or launch programs based on Just-in-time JavaScript technology – used in Jit-spraying attacks. The Lockdown Mode also prevents the management of smartphone fleets by companies (which again can be hijacked to spy on certain targets). But the limitations also go further.

For example, the mode blocks most attachments and disables card previews that appear when sharing a link. Incoming Apple / iCloud requests, including FaceTime calls, are blocked if the user has not called the contact in question first. The smartphone no longer transmits any data in the case of a USB connection. And all configuration profiles are disabled, preventing any launch of code that is not from the App Store.

Also Read – iOS 16 is official – these 12 new features will change your iPhone

This approach could prove to be much more effective than third-party antivirus solutions, and that’s why it’s a safe bet that this mode will be found sooner or later in a future version of Android, just to enhance the security of the ecosystem.

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iPhone: how “Lockdown mode” (iOS 16) will revolutionize mobile security


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