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Apple has a new Lockdown Mode that's unlike anything on Android

Apple has a rather nifty solution for state-backed spyware and other attacks.
By
July 7, 2022
iPhone 13 Pro review showing back in hand
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Apple has launched a new Lockdown Mode feature for iPhones, iPads, and Macs.
  • It enables a range of security features to combat mercenary spyware.
  • This includes disabling wired connections and disabling most message attachment types.

There’s been a concerning trend in the last few years that sees state actors and other entities buying spyware from private companies for targeted attacks on high-profile people. However, Apple has delivered a rather unique solution to this so-called mercenary spyware scourge.

Lockdown Mode is a new security mode on iOS 16, iPad OS 16, and MacOS Ventura, and it’s indeed designed for the few people who are targeted by state-backed spyware and other attacks. So what does it actually do, then?

Well, Apple has a laundry list of measures that take place when you activate Lockdown Mode:

  • All message attachment types other than images are disabled, while link previews are disabled too.
  • Some web technologies like just-in-time (JIT) Javascript compilation are disabled. However, a user can exclude certain websites from this action.
  • Incoming Apple-related invitations and service requests (e.g. Facetime calls) are blocked unless the user has previously sent you a call or request.
  • Wired connections from your iPhone to your PC or another accessory are blocked.
  • You can’t install configuration profiles or enroll in mobile device management.

In other words, this is an extreme security measure meant to significantly reduce the chances of a malicious actor installing spyware on your iPhone. Furthermore, Apple says that it will add more features to the mode over time.

Either way, this is something we haven’t officially seen on stock Android or major Android skins before (with the possible exception of efforts like Graphene OS). So we’d love to see something similar arrive on stock Android, giving targeted individuals like journalists and activists some extra peace of mind.