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Lockdown Mode is a new 'extreme' security feature coming to iPhone — what it does

Lockdown Mode is a new 'extreme' security feature coming to iPhone — what it does
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple just announced Lockdown Mode, a new security feature headed to iPhones. Keep in mind, however, that this novel security perk is not for your average Joe. According to the Cupertino-based tech giant, it's for a "very small number of users" who find themselves in dangerous, threatening cybersecurity situations.

The security perk will also be rolled out to iPadOS and macOS users. Apple says that Lockdown Mode is poised to hit Apple devices this fall.

What is Lockdown Mode?

Lockdown Mode is an optional yet extreme security perk aimed to protect users who often face grave, terrorizing security threats because of who they are and what they do. Turning on Lockdown Mode solidifies the device's defenses, but as a consequence, it strictly limits certain functions and features. However, it reduces the device's vulnerability to "highly targeted mercenary spyware."

According to Apple's Newsroom post (opens in new tab), Lockdown Mode offers the following protections:

  • 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.

Apple says that its initiative to protect the few individuals who are often in the crosshairs of sophisticated cybercriminals is just the beginning. The Cupertino-based tech giant plans to enhance and "strengthen" Lockdown Mode in the future, adding new features over time.

"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," Apple's head of Security Engineering and Architecture Ivan Krstić said.

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!