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Apple’s Lockdown Mode Prevents Sophisticated Spyware

Krishi Chowdhary Journalist Author expertise
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Apple’s Lockdown Mode Prevents Sophisticated Spyware

In 2022, tech giant Apple introduced a feature for iPhone users to ensure they are least exposed to sophisticated spyware attacks. This feature was primarily designed for journalists or human rights defenders. The feature, known as ‘Lockdown Mode,’ has effectively helped prevent an attack by hackers.

Researchers have claimed that the feature is evidently efficient in blocking complex spyware attacks as it did for the recent breach initiated by the notorious Mercenary hacking provider, NSO Group.

Citizen Lab’s Report

This Tuesday, a report was released by the Cybersecurity and Human Rights Research Group – Citizen Lab. The said report scrutinized three instances of zero-day exploits in iOS 16 and iOS 15. The report indicated that Apple had no clue about the vulnerabilities when two Mexican human rights defenders became the target of the attack.

The recent instance caught by Citizen Lab seemingly proves the efficiency of Lockdown Mode.

The Lockdown Mode, however, blocked one of those attempts. It updated the user with a notification that the Lockdown Mode had restricted someone from accessing the home application of the phone.

However, the researchers are concerned since the hackers may figure out a way to combat this notification issue by implementing methods like fingerprinting Lockdown Mode.

Previously, several experts have expressed the same concern – fingerprinting users to find out who has kept the Lockdown Mode on is a piece of cake. However, that doesn’t mean that the protection it offers is the least efficient.

The fact that Lockdown Mode seems to have thwarted, and even notified targets of a real-world zero-click attack shows that it is a powerful mitigation and is a cause for great optimism.Bill Marczak, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab

However, researchers and experts are worried as they believe that the risk of spyware attacks can hardly be minimized with any optional feature. Not everyone tends to turn on Lockdown Mode, creating room for hackers to exploit Apple apps and other third-party apps which Lockdown Mode may not protect.

The First Documented Instance

The Lockdown Mode was particularly designed to cut down the risk of the iPhone’s attack surface. It can help save a part of the features or code of a system from malware and spyware. The recent one is the first documented instance where Lockdown Mode has been able to offer efficient protection from a targeted attack.

Expressing his satisfaction in response to the said success of Lockdown Mode, Apple spokesperson Scott Radcliffe said that the company is pleased to see how the feature has disrupted the sophisticated attack while simultaneously alerting the user.

The feature has been so efficient in its role that it detected the specific threat even before Apple or security researchers could know about it.

Radcliffe has also promised that Apple’s security team will keep working around the clock to update Lockdown Mode with more advanced features and launch a series of new privacy and security protection measures in iOS.

Krishi Chowdhary Journalist

Krishi Chowdhary Journalist

Krishi is an eager Tech Journalist and content writer for both B2B and B2C, with a focus on making the process of purchasing software easier for businesses and enhancing their online presence and SEO. Krishi has a special skill set in writing about technology news, creating educational content on customer relationship management (CRM) software, and recommending project management tools that can help small businesses increase their revenue. Alongside his writing and blogging work, Krishi's other hobbies include studying the financial markets and cricket.

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