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Winners and Losers: Apple’s Lockdown Mode proves useful as Twitter purges blue checkmarks

It’s been a busy week in tech with a handful of big companies unveiling their latest devices over the last seven days. 

It started with Xiaomi showcasing its new camera-focused Xiaomi 13 Ultra smartphone. The phone was followed by Acer’s Predator Triton 14 (2023) and Swift X 16 laptops and Asus’ new 1kg Zenbook S 13 OLED (2023)

However, our winner and loser titles this week go to Apple and Twitter, respectively. Scroll down to find out why. 

Lockdown Mode

Winner: Apple 

Our winner this week is Apple after one of its more extreme iPhone safety measures was found to be effective at preventing spyware from gaining access to the smartphone

Lockdown Mode is an iPhone feature that launched in 2022 with iOS 16. The opt-in security measure is designed to prevent highly sophisticated cyberattacks from cracking your phone, but it comes at the expense of some of the more standard app and browsing features. 

For example, most message attachment types and link previews are blocked in this mode, as are incoming requests from apps like FaceTime if the user has not contacted the caller first. Wired connections to computers and other accessories are blocked when the smartphone is locked, as are many web technologies unless they’re coming from a trusted site. 

For this reason, Lockdown Mode is primarily targeted at the small number of users that might be personally targeted by these high-level threats. 

This all sounds well and good, but, until now, there was little anecdotal evidence to say the feature was actually effective at preventing cyberattacks. 

This is where Citizen Lab’s report comes in. According to the security group, the Pegasus spyware recently attempted to exploit two vulnerabilities in iOS 16. However, users with Lockdown Mode enabled received real-time notifications that allowed them to take action before the spyware gained access to their system. 

It isn’t clear whether Pegasus has found a way around these alerts since these findings, but the fact that Lockdown Mode has been able to stave off such a dangerous cyberattack is sure to be reassuring for those targeted by attacks such as these. 

Twitter Blue

Loser: Twitter 

You’d think Twitter might have paused a bit to rethink its new verification system after the chaos that ensued when Twitter Blue relaunched late last year and parody accounts ran amok with the little blue tick. 

These days, anyone can get their hands on the blue checkmark by subscribing to Twitter’s subscription service. Thankfully, Twitter has amended the system to provide some distinction between regular users and public figures, preventing users like fake Jesus and Nintendo of America from being mistaken for the real deal. 

Twitter has also added colours and labels to provide a distinction between Twitter Blue subscribers, business accounts and government accounts. 

Unfortunately, the last remaining pillar of the previous Twitter verification system was removed from the site this week as Twitter deleted all of its legacy verification markers. The legacy system prevented already-verified accounts from losing the blue tick that allowed people to distinguish the official accounts of celebrities, politicians and businesses from imposters. 

Now that the legacy system is gone, previously-verified personalities will be forced to subscribe to Twitter Blue to keep hold of their verification tick. 

That is, all aside from the users Elon Musk has personally decided to pay for, including William Shatner, LeBron James and Stephen King.

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