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iOS

What is iPhone Lockdown Mode and how does it work?

By Roland Udvarlaki July 8, 2022, 8:00 am
iPhone Lockdown Mode Source: Pocketnow

It’s 2022, and we’re all way too familiar with the word “Lockdown” thanks to the raging pandemic. You may be surprised to see a lockdown feature come to the iPhone, but it makes a lot of sense, once you get to know the benefits it offers. The new Lockdown Mode was announced and rolled out in the latest iOS 16 Beta 3 release, and it lets users increase their security to the extreme.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, the new iPhone Lockdown will be an opt-in feature, allowing users to enhance, and significantly increase their security. The feature isn’t recommended to be used by the vast majority, and everyday people are unlikely to ever need to consider enabling this feature.

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What is iPhone Lockdown Mode?

Lockdown Mode on iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura Source: Pocketnow

Apple announced a new Lockdown Mode feature for iPhone users in the latest iOS 16 Beta 3 software release. Apple says the new feature is intended to be used by those who may be targeted by highly sophisticated digital threats, such as those from private companies developing state-sponsored mercenary spyware.

Lockdown Mode will be available on iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura later this fall. It will be an opt-in protection feature for a very small number of users who require even more security.

Lockdown Mode will restrict some applications, such as Messages, Web browsing, Apple Services, Wired connections, and profiles. This will prevent attackers from loading malicious software on Apple devices, protecting the owner’s highly confidential information and other data. This should also prevent the device from being controlled by criminals.

Apple also announced that it’ll continue to invest and strengthen the security in Lockdown Mode, and it promises to add new protections to it over time. The company also established a new category within the Apple Security Bounty Program and offers doubled payouts for eligible bugs to help fix and improve the feature. Apple will offer a maximum of $2,000,000 bounty payout, which is currently the highest reward for researchers in the industry.

Where is Lockdown Mode available?

Apple Lockdown Mode availability and devices
Apple Lockdown Mode availability and devices
Source: Pocketnow, Illustrated by Roland Udvarlaki

In the official press release, Apple revealed that the Lockdown Mode feature will expand to iPadOS 16, and macOS Venture Beta releases in the feature. The news suggests that it will be available on those devices and platforms when they are publicly released later in the fall.

We don’t know how the feature will work on other operating systems. We expect it to work identically on iPadOS, and we might see a few additional settings and options on macOS Ventura.

How does it work?

Turning on Lockdown Mode on the iPhone, running iOS 16
Turning on Lockdown Mode on the iPhone, running iOS 16
Source: Pocketnow, Apple

Apple says that the opt-in Lockdown Mode feature will strictly limit certain functionality, reducing the chances for cyberattacks and confidential information to be lost, or stolen from devices. As we mentioned previously, this feature is primarily aimed at highly influential people and organizations who may be targeted by cybercriminals and other organized groups.

Every day people are unlikely to be targeted, and it’s for a small percentage of users who may be targeted by state-sponsored mercenary spyware, such as the Pegasus software that was used in the past.

At launch, Lockdown Mode includes 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.

How to turn on Lockdown Mode on your iPhone

Apple announced the iPhone Lockdown Mode in the latest iOS 16 Beta 3 release. The newly introduced iPhone Lockdown Mode is will be available in iOS 16. The new feature will also be available on iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura Beta and final releases in the fall.

While we advise against trying out Beta releases on your personal and only device, we have a guide to help you install the latest iOS 16 Beta software. Before you get started, make sure that you have backed up your device, as a factory reset may be required, and data can be lost using Beta releases.

Follow the steps below to enable Lockdown Mode on your iPhone:

  • Find the Settings app on your homescreen
  • Scroll down and tap on Privacy & Security
  • Scroll down and tap on Lockdown Mode
  • You can either tap on Learn more… or tap on Turn On Lockdown Mode
  • Once you have read the features and how they’ll affect your device, scroll all the way to the bottom and tap Turn On Lockdown Mode
  • A pop-up will prompt you to restart the device. If you want to enable the feature, make sure you select Turn On & Restart

Your phone will restart, and Lockdown mode will be enabled. If you later decide to turn off Lockdown mode, repeat the same steps above to disable it. Note that a restart may be required.

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