Apple has announced (opens in new tab) a new mode to protect high-profile users, called Lockdown Mode, available in the forthcoming iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura updates.
Now, Lockdown Mode isn't designed for most iPhone users but those that are at a high risk of being targeted by governments and sophisticated hackers, as has happened with the NSO Group's Pegasus spyware (opens in new tab).
"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," said Apple's Ivan Krstić.
"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."
Apple has been aware of these issues for some time, given high-profile media reports of iPhone users being targeted, but a feature like this clearly will take some time to develop and ensure it works.
How Lockdown Mode works
iOS users already have a level of protection by toggling to switch off their iPhone, which requires the passcode, rather than biometric authentication.
But Lockdown Mode takes it much further, effectively locking down all major aspects of the iPhone immediately. Apple says the feature requires a full restart.
Once restarted, Apple says Messages, web browsing, Apple's own services, wired connections, and more will become severely limited.
Over time, Apple will continue to update Lockdown Mode will new features and protections. The company is offering an up to $2 million bug bounty for any issues with the service.
Taking privacy to the next level
While this Lockdown Mode is clearly not going to be something that every iPhone user makes use of, it is really encouraging to see Apple take such serious steps to prevent an iPhone owner's privacy being invaded.
Invasion of privacy from companies, governments, hackers, advertisement agencies and more is a serious issue in 2022 and the more tools the average person has at their disposal to fight back the better in our mind.
The best Android phone makers should be paying attention, too, as there is nothing like Lockdown Mode offered right now, making iPhone the more attractive hardware for people concerned about protecting their privacy. Android phones makers need to bone up fast and follow Apple's example.