Apple Announces New Lockdown Mode on iOS 16 With 'Extreme' Level of Security

Apple today announced a new Lockdown Mode coming to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac with iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura. Apple says the optional security feature is designed to protect the "very small number" of users who may be at risk of "highly targeted cyberattacks" from private companies developing state-sponsored spyware, such as journalists, activists, and government employees.

Lockdown Mode Feature
Apple says Lockdown Mode is enabled in the third beta versions of iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura released today, and the feature will be available to all users when the software updates are released later this year. While the feature is aimed at users who are targets of cyberattacks, it appears that it can be enabled by any user.

Lockdown Mode is turned off by default and can be enabled in the Privacy & Security section of the Settings or System Settings app. After being turned on, Lockdown Mode can be turned off at any time in the same section of the Settings app. Enabling or disabling Lockdown Mode requires restarting the device and entering the device's passcode.

Lockdown Mode iOS 16
When enabled, Apple says Lockdown Mode provides an "extreme" level of security by strictly limiting or disabling the functionality of features, apps, and websites. At launch, Lockdown Mode will include the following protections:

  • In the Messages app, most message attachment types other than images are blocked, and some features like link previews are unavailable.
  • Incoming FaceTime calls from people you have not previously called are blocked. Incoming invitations for other Apple services from people you have not previously invited are also blocked.
  • Some complex web technologies and browsing features, including just-in-time (JIT) JavaScript compilation, are disabled unless the user excludes a trusted site from Lockdown Mode. This protection applies to Safari and all other web browsers using WebKit across the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
  • Shared albums will be removed from the Photos app, and new shared album invitations will be blocked.
  • When a device is locked, wired connections with other devices/accessories are blocked.
  • Configuration profiles cannot be installed, and the device cannot enroll into mobile device management (MDM), while Lockdown Mode is turned on.

Apple said it will continue to add new protections to Lockdown Mode over time. Apple has added a new category to its Security Bounty program to reward researchers who find Lockdown Mode bypasses and help improve its protections, with bounties to be doubled for qualifying findings in Lockdown Mode, up to a maximum of $2 million.

"Lockdown Mode is a groundbreaking capability that reflects our unwavering commitment to protecting users from even the rarest, most sophisticated attacks," said Ivan Krstić, Apple's head of security engineering, in a press release shared today. "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."

Apple also announced it is making a $10 million grant to the Ford Foundation's Dignity and Justice Fund to support organizations that investigate, expose, and prevent highly targeted cyberattacks. Apple said it will also be donating any damages awarded from its lawsuit filed against NSO Group, creator of the spyware Pegasus.

Last year, Apple began notifying users who may have been targeted by state-sponsored attackers via email and iMessage notifications.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Related Roundups: iOS 16, iPadOS 16

Top Rated Comments

siddavis Avatar
6 weeks ago
EU will legislate that Extreme Lockdown Mode must be made interoperable with apps that disable Extreme Lockdown Mode.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
johnmarki Avatar
6 weeks ago
I applaud Apple for bringing this feature/mode to the masses. I would really like to see this as an a la carte set of controls though.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Chaos215bar2 Avatar
6 weeks ago
Am I the only one who wants to see some of these made into first-class features? Being able to block automatic loading of previews and attachments in Messages, for instance, would be a great.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Lexdexia Avatar
6 weeks ago
I hope Apple sues that israeli spyware group into bankruptcy.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Doctor Q Avatar
6 weeks ago
In the Messages app, most message attachment types other than images are blocked, and some features like link previews are unavailable.
I'd like to have this feature myself.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rjp1 Avatar
6 weeks ago
It would be nice if some of these things could be configured. If they are known higher risk, then why can't we disable some things we don't care about?
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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