This Is The New Pegasus-Proof Anti-Spy Mode Of The iPhone

Apple will enable an "isolation mode" for its devices, designed to protect users who are at risk of being spied on.

The arrival of iOS 16 in the fall will change a lot of things on Apple devices, from a new lock screen on the iPhone to new tools for working with multiple apps simultaneously on the iPad.

To that list we must now add a new function. With iOS 16, Apple will also enable an "isolation mode" for its devices, designed to protect users who are at risk of government spying or sophisticated cyberattacks. Although mobile operating systems, both iOS and Android, regularly receive security updates that block known vulnerabilities used for these attacks, this "panic mode" goes one step further. When activated by the user, the phone will restrict various features and services that have proven in the past to be vectors for spyware applications, such as the NSO Group's well-known Pegasus.

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The Messages app, for example, will block most attachment types other than images. Several features, such as web link preview, will also be disabled. The Safari web browser is another application that will modify its behavior when this mode is active. Complex web technologies or just-in-time (JIT) compilation of JavaScript will be disabled unless the user marks a website as trusted. The iPhone will also not be able to use configuration profiles or enroll in remote management groups like the ones companies often use.

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Apple will even limit its own services. Invitations and requests, including FaceTime calls, will be blocked if the user has not previously maintained contact with the initiator and the phone will also not be able to connect with a cable to a computer or accessory to prevent the information inside can be extracted with forensic programs.

Isolation mode is a tool intended primarily for journalists, activists, political dissidents and other similar profiles who may become the target of state-backed attacks. It must be activated voluntarily in the configuration tool and requires a reboot of the phone. These measures also work together. It is not possible to choose only some of them and together they reduce the functionality of the device, which explains why it is a protection that is not activated by default.

Apple, in any case, will keep pace with iOS security updates and add new protections to isolation mode as it detects new attack vectors and techniques.

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