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Apple to Test Lockdown Mode to Combat Spyware Attacks

Story Highlights

Apple has launched Lockdown Mode, a new security feature designed to protect iOS users from sophisticated spyware attacks. It is also promising $2 million to people who discover any weakness in the security feature.

Apple (AAPL) plans to begin tests on a new groundbreaking security feature designed to offer additional protection to iOS users. “Lockdown Mode” is the new feature that will protect users at high risk of highly targeted cyber-attacks from private companies and state-sponsored mercenary spyware. In a press release, the tech giant has also confirmed details of a $10 million grant targeting research programs working on such threats.

Lockdown Mode Capabilities

According to the Wall Street Journal, Lockdown Mode will limit certain device functionalities. For instance, it will block any suspicious message attachments on iPhones. Message attachment types other than images will also remain blocked.

Lockdown Mode will also block FaceTime calls from people with whom the user has not been in contact with. In addition, whenever the iPhone is locked, wired connections with any accessory will remain blocked. Citizen Lab Director Ron Deibert expects the new feature to make it difficult for governments and other entities to hack high-risk users.

Apple plans to roll out the feature for testing before widespread release in the fall. After that, the security feature will be part of the operating systems for iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers. It also plans to strengthen Lockdown Mode over time. Conversely, it promises up to $2 million for any researchers who find a weakness in the new security feature.

Apple vs. NSO

The launch of Lockdown comes months after Apple was forced to fix a loophole that Israeli cybersecurity company NSO Group used to infect iPhones using iMessage. According to Citizen Lab, the flaw allowed the cybersecurity firm to carry out a “zero click” attack that does not require people to click any links.

Last year, Apple sued NSO for allegedly deploying malware and spyware that targeted devices used by journalists, activists, academics, and government officials. It has since confirmed a $10 million grant for any damages awarded from a lawsuit filed against the Israeli company. The grant is for organizations that investigate, expose, and prevent highly targeted cyberattacks.

Wall Street’s Take on Apple

The Street is bullish on the stock, with a Strong Buy consensus rating, based on 22 Buys and six Holds. The average Apple price target of $185.05 implies 29.48% upside potential from current levels.

Positive Bloggers’ Opinion

TipRanks data shows that financial bloggers’ opinions are 86% Bullish on Apple, compared to a sector average of 65%.

Key Takeaway for Investors

The unveiling of lockdown mode should make Apple devices more secure at a time when people cherish their privacy and security of their data. Demand for such products should increase which should allow the company to continue to earn higher revenues.

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