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Apple bullet-proofs iPhone against state-sponsored cyber attacks

Staff Reporter
July 11, 2022

$10 million in grants offered to anyone who can crack Lockdown Mode

Apple will be beefing beefed up the next iOS release with more robust anti-hacking safeguards for users targeted by state-sponsored cybercriminals.

Called Lockdown Mode, it is described as “an extreme, optional protection for those “who face grave, targeted threats to their digital security”.

Apple is also offering a $10 million grant for research against state-‘sponsored cyber-attacks.

Said Apple’s head of Security Engineering and Architecture Ivan Krsti: “Lockdown Mode offers an extreme, optional level of security for politicians, journalists, and who those in government agencies may be personally targeted.

Lockdown Mode blocks message images, disables link previews, blocks invitations and service requests, blocks wired connections when the iPhone is locked and shuts out mobile device management when Lockdown Mode is on.

Apple will reward researchers who can crack Lockdown Mode and improve its protections. 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.

Apple is also making a $10 million grant to support organizations that investigate, expose, and prevent highly targeted cyberattacks, including those created by private companies developing state-sponsored mercenary spyware.

The grant will be made to the Dignity and Justice Fund established and advised by the Ford Foundation. “The global spyware trade targets human rights defenders, journalists, and dissidents. It facilitates violence, reinforces authoritarianism, and supports political repression,” said Lori McGlinchey, the Ford Foundation’s director of Technology and Society.

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