Lockdown Mode is a new option introduced in iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura that restricts system functions for maximum security. Apple developed it to protect its products from sophisticated spyware, such as NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, which has been used to attack journalists, politicians, dissidents and activists around the world.
Spyware like Pegasus might seem like an unlikely threat. But for some, lockdown mode can be life or death. US citizens have little to worry about at the moment, but it doesn’t take much imagination to imagine how such spyware might be received by slightly more fascist administrations.
Lockdown Mode: Maximum Security for Your iPhone
The details of how Pegasus works are truly puzzling. With Lockdown Mode in iOS 16, you can be sure that your precious Pocket PC will be much more difficult to use remotely.
According to Apple’s press release, lock mode does the following:
- Shared photo albums will not appear in your photo library.
- Messages blocks most message attachments except images.
- Messages does not view web links.
- You can only receive incoming invitations and service requests, such as FaceTime calls, from people you’ve previously communicated with.
- Wired connections to your computer are blocked when your iPhone is locked.
- You cannot install new configuration profiles (such as Apple’s iOS beta profiles).
- The device cannot be registered to mobile device management systems such as Kandji or Jamf.
Some of these restrictions may seem strange or arbitrary, but many of these features have been used as vulnerabilities in the past – especially Messages links.
How to Activate Lockdown Mode on iPhone
Lockdown Mode is a feature of iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura, all set to release this fall. If you want to try it right now, you can install the iOS 16 public beta.
The reboot is very fast – much faster than a normal system reboot. Shortly after unlocking the phone, I got a system alert that said something about security, but it disappeared after a split second. I hope it didn’t matter.
Testing Lockdown Mode in iOS 16
The Photos app was a little buggy when I first opened it after turning on lock mode. I poked around, saw that my shared albums were gone, tapped the For You tab, and the app immediately became unresponsive. Forced closing and reopening did the trick and it didn’t happen again. Strange, but then it’s beta.
Other devices registered in my Photo Library, such as my Mac, can still manage my shared albums; they are not deleted or transmitted. This only affects iPhone’s with lock mode enabled.
A friend sent me money in messages shortly after I turned on block mode. I have my wallet set to automatically accept incoming Apple Cash, so I received the money, but the message didn’t load. When I click on an attachment, I get a warning: “Unable to open message in lock mode.”
A similar result occurs if someone tries to send you a PDF or Microsoft Office document in Messages. You can still receive them on other devices that you’re signed in to Messages, but not on a locked iPhone.
Disabling lockdown mode
Everything will return to normal when you turn off the lock mode. You can return to your wild, individualistic, carefree life full of shared photo albums and custom web fonts.