Apple will pay two million dollars to anyone who can crack the protection mode called Lockdown Mode, which appeared in the sixteenth version of the mobile operating system iOS, Apple has published on its portal. The new “impenetrable” feature is aimed at effectively combating Pegasus (capable of extracting text messages, photos, emails, record calls, remotely turn on the microphone and camera), and other similar spyware installed on devices without the owners’ knowledge.
Bounties are doubled for qualifying findings in Lockdown Mode, up to a maximum of $2,000,000 — the highest maximum bounty payout in the industry.
“While the vast majority of users will never fall victim to a targeted cyberattack, we still need to protect all owners of Apple products. Lockdown Mode is a revolutionary feature that reflects our unwavering commitment to protecting users from attack,” said Ivan Krst, Apple’s director of development and security architecture.
The media reports that Lockdown Mode may not be necessary for ordinary Apple customers. But it makes sense to turn it on if you’re at risk of being attacked – say, as a journalist. The story of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a 59-year-old columnist for The Washington Post, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 is worth remembering. According to U.S. forensics, UAE intelligence agencies installed Pegasus spyware on the journalist’s fiancée’s phone months before his death.
The new feature will be available for testing by developers this summer, with an official release planned for the fall. You can read more about iOS 16 itself on Apple’s website.