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Apple Inc on Wednesday said it plans to release a new feature called “Lockdown Mode” this fall which aims to add a new layer of protection for human rights representatives, political opponents and other complex terrorist attacks.
The move comes after at least two Israeli firms used Apple software bugs to hack iPhones without a target that required clicking or clicking anything. The NSO Group, a manufacturer of “Pegasus” software capable of such attacks, has been sued by Apple and placed on a list of banned by U.S. officials.
“Lock mode” will come on Apple’s iPhones, iPads and Macs this fall and unlocking it will block most of the attachments sent to the iPhone messaging app. Security researchers believe the NSO Group made a mistake in Apple’s handling of the message attachment. The new mode will also block wireless connections on the iPhone when locked. The Israeli company Cellebrite has used such hand-made connections to access iPhones.
Proponents of Apple say they believe the sophisticated attack is a new feature designed to combat – so-called “zero click” tactics – is now rare and many users will not need to use the new mode.
Spyware companies have argued that they are selling more powerful technologies to help governments prevent national security threats. But human rights groups and journalists have repeatedly documented the use of spyware to attack the public, undermine political opposition, and disrupt elections.
To help streamline the new feature, Apple has said it will pay up to $ 2 million for every mistake security researchers may find in the new mode, representing Apple claiming the highest “maximum profit” offered in the industry.
Apple also claims to make $ 10 million in donations, as well as any proceeds from its case against the NSO Group, from groups that receive, disclose and work to prevent targeted theft. Apple said the funding would go to the Dignity and Justice Fund set up by the Ford Foundation, one of the largest independent institutions in the United States.