iPhone Lockdown Mode: Proof of Concept Website Can Detect if It is Enabled on Your Phone

Apple developed Lockdown Mode to protect its users from state-sponsored attacks.

iPhone Lockdown Mode: Proof of Concept Website Can Detect if It is Enabled on Your Phone

Photo Credit: Apple

Lockdown Mode limits apps, websites, and features on iPhone

Highlights
  • Lockdown Mode will be available in iOS 16
  • It is claimed to provide security from malware
  • Some experiences in this mode are completely unavailable

iPhone Lockdown Mode was announced by Apple as a way to help people who face grave, targeted threats to their digital security. Apple calls this an extreme but optional protection for a small number of users, including journalists, politicians, and for human rights advocates, who are in the crosshairs of state-sponsored spyware, like Pegasus, which was developed by Israel-based NSO group. However, it looks like that a simple, proof of concept website can detect whether you have the mode enabled and may potentially make you a target.

As per a report by Motherboard, a proof of concept website developed by John Ozbay, who is a privacy activist and the CEO of privacy focused company Cryptee, can instantaneously detect whether you are using the Lockdown Mode on your iPhone or not.

Apple developed this feature to add a new layer of protection after at least two Israeli firms exploited flaws in Apple's software to remotely break into iPhones without the target needing to click or tap anything. Pegasus software by NSO Group can carry out such attacks by injecting malware and accessing private user data. Once Lockdown Mode is enabled, it will not function as it typically does. Apps, websites, and features will be strictly limited for security, and some experiences will be completely unavailable.

“Let's say you're in China, and you're using Lockdown Mode. Now, any website that you visit could effectively detect you are using Lockdown Mode, they have your IP address as well. So, they will actually be able to identify that the user with this IP address is using Lockdown Mode. It's a tradeoff between security and privacy. [Apple] chose security,” Ozbay was quoted as saying. Ozbay says that among the various features that Lockdown Mode disables, the lack of loading custom fonts is “the easiest thing to detect and exploit.”

“It took us five minutes to put the code together and see if this was working,” he told Motherboard. The privacy activist also says that this issue is technically not a bug but a specific drawback of how Lockdown Mode is designed and there may be no way around it. He says that there is only one way Apple can mitigate this issue and that is by fundamentally changing how the Lockdown Mode works.

Apple claims that Lockdown Mode in iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura further hardens device defences and strictly limits certain functionalities. iOS 16 is likely to be released next month and iPadOS may debut in October.


The Chromecast with Google TV that runs on Android TV is here. When will Google learn how to name products? We discuss this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
Affiliate links may be automatically generated - see our ethics statement for details.
Comments

For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and Google News. For the latest videos on gadgets and tech, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Sourabh Kulesh
Sourabh Kulesh is a Chief Sub Editor at Gadgets 360. He has worked in a national daily newspaper, a news agency, a magazine and now writing technology news online. He has knowledge on a wide gamut of topics related to cybersecurity, enterprise and consumer technology. Write to sourabhk@ndtv.com or get in touch on Twitter through his handle @KuleshSourabh. More
DC Films Eyes Lego Franchise Producer Dan Lin as New Head, in the Vein of MCU's Kevin Feige: Report
Share on Facebook Tweet Snapchat Share Reddit Comment google-newsGoogle News
 
 

Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement

© Copyright Red Pixels Ventures Limited 2022. All rights reserved.