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Apple Announced Lockdown Mode on iOS 16 for Extreme Security

Apple expands industry-leading commitment to protect users from highly targeted mercenary spyware


Apple today announced a new Lockdown Mode coming to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac with iOS 16, iPad 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.

Apple says Lockdown Mode will be enabled in the third beta versions of iOS 16, iPad 16, and macOS Ventura seeded 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 can be found in the Privacy & Security section of the Settings app on iPhones and iPad and the System Settings app on Mac.

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:

  • 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 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.

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