Apple on Wednesday unveiled a new security feature that restricts some device functionalities in an effort to make it less likely for consumers to fall victim to sophisticated spyware. The new function, dubbed “Lockdown Mode,” tries to combat the emergence of sophisticated hacking tools that are occasionally used by governments to seize control of a person’s device. Such software frequently enables governments to intercept a smartphone’s surroundings or even force it to read text messages and emails.
Since cybersecurity experts generally give iPhones excellent marks, politicians, activists, and other prominent individuals frequently use them out of concern that they might be the target of hackers looking to eavesdrop on them. As a result, there is now a cottage industry of mercenary spyware firms that hunt down or purchase Apple’s iOS smartphone software flaws and then bill governments for the ability to hack virtually anyone’s phone.
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Lockdown Mode restricts a number of functions that malware organizations have previously used to infiltrate users’ iPhones, such as accepting FaceTime calls from unauthorized users or instantly loading preview links from message senders. “An severe, optional safeguard that should only be activated if you fear you may be personally targeted by a very sophisticated cyberattack,” according to Apple, describes the features.
It will also prevent iPhones from communicating with any devices that are manually attached to it. As a result, it is no longer possible for many police agencies to connect a suspect’s iPhone to a digital forensics tool in order to look for evidence. The most frequent methods through which police have discovered digital evidence in cases involving abortion are forensics technologies. According to Emma Weil, a policy analyst at Upturn, a nonprofit organization dedicated to harnessing technology for social justice, the new function may be used to protect those who seek abortions in jurisdictions where doing so is prohibited.