Apple will pay you $2 million if you can break its new ‘Lockdown Mode’


“Lockdown Mode” is coming to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

In a post on the Apple Newsroom website, the company announced the new feature, which will be coming to iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura in the fall. The company describes the new feature as “an extreme, optional protection for the very small number of users who face grave, targeted threats to their digital security.”

Ivan Krstić, Apple’s head of Security Engineering and Architecture, said that the feature is designed specifically for the small number of users who may experience “highly targeted cyberattacks.”

“Apple makes the most secure mobile devices on the market. Lockdown Mode is a groundbreaking capability that reflects our unwavering commitment to protecting users from even the rarest, most sophisticated attacks. While the vast majority of users will never be the victims of highly targeted cyberattacks, we will work tirelessly to protect the small number of users who are. That includes continuing to design defenses specifically for these users, as well as supporting researchers and organizations around the world doing critically important work in exposing mercenary companies that create these digital attacks.”

When the feature launches in the fall, it will offer the following protections for users:

  • Messages: Most message attachment types other than images are blocked. Some features, like link previews, are disabled.
  • Web browsing: Certain complex web technologies, like just-in-time (JIT) JavaScript compilation, are disabled unless the user excludes a trusted site from Lockdown Mode.
  • Apple services: Incoming invitations and service requests, including FaceTime calls, are blocked if the user has not previously sent the initiator a call or request.
  • Wired connections with a computer or accessory are blocked when iPhone is locked.
  • Configuration profiles cannot be installed, and the device cannot enroll into mobile device management (MDM), while Lockdown Mode is turned on.

To strengthen “Lockdown Mode” over time, Apple has increased the amount a researcher can earn for bypassing the protection from $1 million to $2 million as part of the Apple Security Bounty program. The company says that it is the largest payout possible for such a program in the industry.

Apple is also making a $10 million grant to the Dignity and Justice Fund to help “support organizations that investigate, expose, and prevent highly targeted cyberattacks.”

You can learn more about everything announced in the press release linked above.

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