Earlier this week, Apple officially launched its new iOS 16 operating system update for iPhone devices. The update contains several security-focused and privacy features.
iOS 16 was first unveiled in June at the WWDC 2022 conference. The update supports iPhone devices starting from iPhone 8, as well as second and third generation iPhone SE devices.
‘Lockdown Mode’ is a particularly significant feature, first launched in July on selective devices. It is now available on all iOS 16 devices.
Lockdown Mode, according to Apple, provides an “extreme, optional level of security for the very few users who, because of who they are or what they do, may be personally targeted by some of the most sophisticated digital threats.”
The mode limits certain functionalities on devices and hardens defences. This reduces any attack surfaces that could potentially be exploited by spyware. Some highlights of this feature include the ability to block most message attachment types, stop wired connections when the device is locked, and disable link previews.
Apple has also introduced a ‘Safety Check’ option with the new update. This is designed to help people cut ties with abusive partners who may try and secretly read their messages or track their locations.
This feature also lets users stop sharing their location information via Find My iPhone and can quickly reset a device’s privacy settings. Once activated, users will be signed out on all other devices and access to FaceTime and iMessage apps is restricted.
Reportedly, the feature was developed in collaboration with the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the National Centre for Victims of Crime and the Australian Women’s Services Network.
More security features include, preventing applications from accessing the device’s clipboard and Passkey. This follows news that Apple had discovered and patched a critical security risk in Safari that allowed threat actors to take control of a device’s operating system and execute arbitrary code.
This comes after Google warned of new spyware targeting iOS and Android devices in June 2022.