Apple says its new iMessage feature can notify people if their conversation is being watched.
It's available for those who "face extraordinary digital threats," like journalists and politicians.
Both people in the conversation must have the feature enabled to get an alert if there's a breach.
Apple said its new iMessage Contact Key Verification feature can notify people if their conversation is being breached by a state-sponsored hacker — but it only works if both people have it enabled.
The iMessage feature will be available for people "who face extraordinary digital threats," like journalists, human rights activists, and politicians, Apple said in a press release.
iMessages between two people who have the feature enabled will receive an automatic alert "if an exceptionally advanced adversary, such as a state-sponsored attacker, were ever to succeed breaching cloud servers and inserting their own device to eavesdrop on these encrypted communications."
Since the feature only works if both people have it enabled, it's limited to iMessage users to whom the feature is available. Apps like Signal and WhatsApp are cross-platform alternatives that also offer end-to-end encrypted messaging.
For people who want another level of protection, Apple said they can compare a Contact Verification Code with each other in person, on FaceTime, or through a secure call to confirm they're talking to each other.
Apple noted that it's not new to the security game, as it "pioneered" end-to-end encryption with iMessage, which only allows messages to be read by the sender and their recipients.
Despite this, iMessage users have been the targets of spyware before. Apple sued spyware firm NSO Group and its parent company Q Cyber Technologies last November, claiming that the company's Pegasus tool was used to target activists, journalists, and others who were using Apple products.
In July, Apple announced its new 'Lockdown Mode' option that is also designed to protect certain users who could be targets of "sophisticated digital threats," including those coming from "private companies developing state-sponsored mercenary spyware."
In addition to iMessage Contact Key Verification, Apple released two other security features: Security Keys for Apple ID and Advanced Data Protection for iCloud.
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