Apple often claims that its products are the best in terms of privacy and safety. This is something that most Apple users also believe in. However, the recent developments around Pegasus and Hermit spyware have dented Apple’s image as one of the most secure and privacy-friendly ecosystems.

To counter that, Apple announced Wednesday that it plans to release a new feature for its iPhones, iPads, and Macs, called Lockdown Mode. This new feature is aimed to add a new layer of protection for human rights advocates, political dissidents, and other general users against sophisticated hacking attacks.

Earlier this year, two Israeli cybersecurity firms exploited Apple’s software to remotely break into iPhones without the target needing to click or tap anything. One of these firms was the NSO Group, behind the Pegasus spyware. Apple has sued the NSO Group had had successfully lobbied the US government to place them on a trade blacklist.

“Lockdown mode” is initially being offered as a test version so that security researchers can help Apple identify any bugs or weaknesses. Apple usually releases significant updates to its device operating systems in late September.

Apple also announced that anyone who can find vulnerabilities within the new feature set would be awarded $2 Million per Apple Security Research Device Program.

Unlike the plethora of other security features that Apple builds into its software, the lockdown mode is meant to serve as an emergency button that Apple expects will only be needed by a small number of its users.

Apple hopes to release this new feature when they announce the iPhone 14 series at their fall launch event when they also announce the new iOS 16.

When activated, the new Lockdown Mode will block most attachments sent to the iPhone’s Messages app and other instant messaging apps. Only images will be allowed.

Furthermore, specific incoming invitations and service requests, including FaceTime calls, are blocked if the user has not previously sent the initiator a call or request. Also, all wired connections with a computer or accessory are blocked when iPhone is locked.

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