Aimed specifically at star users (dignitaries, journalists, business people, etc.), Lockdown Mode is the emergency solution designed by Apple engineers to block attacks by professional hackers and state actors with virtually unlimited resources.
Of particular concern is the Pegasus software, developed by an Israeli company and made available to anyone willing to pay the asking price. Customers include many of the world’s authoritarian governments, as well as the governments of more reputable countries (e.g. the USA), which have ordered the software in order to “study” it, so as not to fall too far behind the latest security trends. Of course, the list is also swelled by other organisations and companies with deep pockets, eager to use Pegasus software to undermine their adversaries.
Predictably, US authorities have rushed to include Pegasus developers on the so-called blacklist of companies banned from any business dealings with other US companies. Also sued by Apple, the Israeli developers continue to conduct their business, collaborating more or less covertly with loyal customers.
Recognizing that it faces a formidable adversary, Apple deals with the Pegasus threat by introducing a barricade setting, which once checked restricts some basic device functions, closing any remaining loopholes for possible cyber attacks.
Called Lockdown Mode, the setting blocks automatic generation and display of previews for incoming links and receipt of Face Time invitations from unknown contacts. It also disables certain web technologies that are at high risk of being exploited in cyber attacks, even though the measure could result in certain sites being displayed incorrectly and partially losing their functionality. At the same time, connections to fixed networks that are easy to locate and attack (e.g. LANs) are completely closed on Apple PCs and laptops, while imposing much stricter rules for mobile data connections, avoiding as far as possible the compromise of devices with spyware applications.
Another pain point is the popular software installed on phones, Lockdown Mode severely limiting their functionality as well. According to Apple, the new security option should only be checked in extreme cases, when the user believes they could be targeted by sophisticated cyber attacks.
Apple adds, “When iPhone is in Lockdown mode, it won’t work as it normally does. Apps, websites and features will be strictly limited for security, and some experiences will be completely unavailable.