Blocking Mode Arrives on Apple Watch to Combat Spyware Threats

Against spyware: blocking mode comes to the Apple Watch

Apple’s blocking mode, introduced last year, is a protective function designed to safeguard devices such as iPhones, iPads, and Macs from spyware attacks. The mode, which blocks certain content, will now also be available on the Apple Watch. The feature can be accessed through the iOS 17 and watchOS 10 developer betas, and can be activated under the “Settings > Data protection and security > Blocking mode” menu. When an iPhone is paired with an Apple Watch, the iPhone will automatically put the watch into blocking mode when activated, assuming that both devices have the necessary software updates. However, it is currently unclear whether this feature will be available for individual activation or deactivation on the watch itself in the future, or whether it will continue to be tied to the paired iPhone.

Apple’s blocking mode is primarily aimed at individuals who may be vulnerable to cyberattacks and spying, such as celebrities, journalists, activists, or government employees. By severely restricting the functionality of the device, Apple aims to reduce the attack surface. For example, in blocking mode, websites may take longer to load, display incomplete content, or replace certain fonts. Attachments are blocked in iMessage, link previews are disabled, and incoming calls on FaceTime are rejected if the caller is not already in the user’s contacts. SharePlay, shared albums in the Photos app, and invitations to Apple services like Home are also blocked. The mode also prevents the installation of device management configuration profiles, and a secured device can only be connected to another computer if it is unlocked. However, phone calls, text messages, and emergency calls continue to function normally in blocking mode. Apple intends to continuously develop this mode further.

Leave a Reply