Apple says it will issue ‘Lockdown Mode’ option on iPhones to protect users from ‘mercenary spyware’

Company has been major advocate of privacy protections, legislation.
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An Apple store in Buford, Georgia
An Apple store in Buford, Georgia
(John Greim/Getty)

Tech giant Apple this week said it would soon be opening its iOS system to a sophisticated “lockdown” feature, an “extreme” feature that will permit users to protect their phones against major cyberattacks.

The company said in a news release that its next release of iOS in the fall would include an option for “Lockdown Mode,” what the company called “an extreme, optional protection for the very small number of users who face grave, targeted threats to their digital security.”

When activated, Lockdown Mode “hardens device defenses and strictly limits certain functionalities, sharply reducing the attack surface that potentially could be exploited by highly targeted mercenary spyware,” Apple said. 

Within the security mode, features such as messaging, web browning, wired connections and FaceTime calls are blocked or severely limited. 

The company said it will “continue to strengthen Lockdown Mode and add new protections to it over time.”

As part of its “Apple Security Bounty program,” the company said it will offer users up to $2,000,000 if they can “find Lockdown Mode bypasses” in order to “help improve its protections.”