Apple shuts down iPhone cracking loophole used by police

16 Junio, 2018, 02:47 | Author: Misty Newman
  • White iPhone SE in someone's hand

In an upcoming version of iOS (likely iOS 12), Apple will include a feature known as USB Restricted Mode which limits access to a locked iPhone through its USB port.

The "USB Restricted Mode" function, originally tipped to arrive in Apple's battery-slurping iOS 11.4 update, will see Apple disable an iPhone's Lightning port if it hasn't been unlocked for a seven-day period, limiting its use to exclusively charging.

According to security researchers, forcing law enforcement or hackers to get to a targeted iPhone within an hour should reduce access to these units by 90%.

Privacy advocates disagree, noting that existing devices made by companies like GrayShift and Cellebrite present a pretty big security risk to iPhone owners. Created to better protect the private information of iPhone users, it will have little obvious effect on most people using the devices but will make it far more hard for investigators to use extraction tools that attach through the port to collect the contents of seized iPhones.

Until recently, current FBI Director Christopher Wray repeatedly claimed that the Bureau had been unable to get into more than 7,000 phones in 2017.

However, users will be able to charge their device by plugging in the charger in the port. News of Apple's planned software update has begun spreading through security blogs and law enforcement circles-and many in investigative agencies are infuriated.

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Apple told Reuters today that will change soon.

An Apple spokesperson explains in a statement that the company is constantly looking for ways to improve the security protections of its devices.

Apple claims the move will protect all customers, especially in countries where phones are readily obtained by police or by criminals with extensive resources, and to head off further spread of the attack technique.

Last November, the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not seek Apple's help in cracking open the locked iPhone of Devin Kelley, who shot and killed 26 people in a Sutherland Springs, Texas church, in the critical first 48 hours after recovery. In 2016, the U.S. Justice Department clashed with Apple when the company refused to unlock an iPhone connected to a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

Apple "could" have supported it if GrayKey had remained a government secret. However, as iPhones and iPads continue to grow in processing power, and interest in wireless accessories has increased, Apple may see value in a dramatically faster wired port for charging and data.

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