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Apple iPhones unveiled a new way for activists, journalists, and other targets also state-sponsored espionage in order to protect themselves from spyware. A Lockdown Mode added to iPhones, iPads, and Mac system intends to counter threats from a thriving industry providing sophisticated espionage tools to governments.

The tech giant ups the bounty by paying researchers for uncovering vulnerabilities in its software while coming into Lockdown Mode, raising the maximum reward to $2 million.

Concerns over digital snooping are fueled by media outlets’ reports on Pegasus spyware made by NSO Group in Israel used by governments to surveil opponents, activists, and journalists.  

Apple is suing NSO Group in US federal court, asking the Israeli firm’s spyware using to attack a small number of iPhone users worldwide. Pegasus mobile phones infiltrate extract data or activate a camera or microphone to spy on their owners. NSO Group says the software is only sold to government agencies only to target criminals and terrorists with the green light of Israeli authorities.

Last month a Spanish court said a judge wanting to visit Israel quizzed the NSO Group’s top executive over a top-level hacking scandal involving the Spanish premier’s phone.

Meanwhile, Google last month, an Italy-based firm’s hacking tools were used to spy on Apple and Android smartphones in Italy and Kazakhstan, casting a light on a “flourishing” spyware industry.

Google’s threat analysis team makes spyware by RCS Lab targeting the phones using a combination of tactics indulging in unusual “drive-by downloads” which might happen without victims being aware. 

Google asks Android users warnings targeted by the spyware and ramped up software defenses tracking more than 30 companies’ surveillance capabilities to governments, according to the Alphabet-owned tech titan.

The commercial spyware industry thrives for growth at a significant rate; Apple’s Lockdown Mode is designed in order to disable some features and capabilities preventing them to take advantage of spyware.

An extreme optional mode takes place to harden the device defencing strictly the limitation of certain functionalities, sharping reducing attacks on the surface which potentially could be exploited by highly targeted mercenary spyware, Apple said.

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