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Apple announces "lockdown mode" on its devices to fight spyware

Apple announces “lockdown mode” on its devices to fight spyware

Enhanced security settings, which can be activated with a single click to protect against the worst spyware: Here’s what’s new Apple announced for its devices on Wednesday, July 6th.

Manufacturer of smartphones, tablets, and computers with security holes in their software It was exploited in the past by the elite Pegasus spywareI decided to make available, as of the fall, a “Insurance Mode” (“Quarantine mode” in French) It is supposed to thwart infection by more advanced spyware.

This will have a direct advantage cost, as some will become inactive. It will become impossible to receive attachments such as images using SMS, while preview links by text messages will also be deactivated. The user will also not be able to receive a video call using Apple’s Facetime technology from a new correspondent: there must be a previous exchange (message or call). Some advanced web browsing features will also be disabled.

This is because calls, receiving attachments or browsing the web, for example, are particularly vulnerable. to computer vulnerabilities, and thus to entry points for malware. Pegasus spyware, made by NSO Group, took advantage of flaws in Apple’s SMS system to infect iPhones, and Until now.

Read also: This article is reserved for our subscribers ‘Project Pegasus’: How Israel’s NSO Group revolutionized espionage

If this feature allows ” Maximum security level » It can be activated by all users, and Apple considers it to be in the first place “Very few users who, because of who they are or what they do, can be personally targeted by some of the most sophisticated digital threats, such as those from the NSO Group and other private companies that develop spyware on behalf of countries.”.

Apple forced to downgrade its service

To ensure the durability of its Lockdown Mode, Apple has also announced that it will double the rewards given to hackers who find flaws in it and report them. Apple promises these “ethical hackers” rewards of up to $2 million.

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Hollow, this new situation also says a bit of Apple’s impotence toward these spyware dealers and hundreds of millions of dollars in research and development. The company is already forced, to offer an optimal level of security, to downgrade its service to protect its most vulnerable users.

This enhanced sandbox is an additional step in the confrontation that the company shares with the NSO Group. Since fall 2021, The company started warning its users When she has reason to believe they have been targeted by sophisticated spyware, specifically Pegasus. Apple took advantage of the press conference introducing “Lock Mode” to indicate that notifications were sent to its users in more than 150 countries, without specifying the total number of alerts. Reason given by the company: The lawsuit it is currently battling with NSO Group. Apple has already brought the Israeli company before the US courts, and is particularly seeking to prevent it from using all Apple brand devices and services.

Read also Pegasus: Apple files a complaint against NSO Group, the manufacturer of spyware

Apple has already promised to pay the compensation it can get to organizations that work to detect and combat malware. The company intends to anticipate this potential payment with a first check of $10 million given to the Ford Foundation’s Dignity and Justice Fund, a US charitable organization, which should announce its first anti-spyware funding at an early date. 2023.