iOS 11.4 Will Make Cracking iPhones Much Harder For Law Enforcement

Smartphones routinely turn up in police investigations around the world and these devices often have clues on them that could help law enforcement to catch criminals. As it stands right now law enforcement has a few tools that it uses to gain access to these devices whether the owner wants to unlock them or is even alive to unlock them. These tricks include things as basic a using the fingerprints of the dead to unlock their phones to using GrayKey iPhone unlocking devices to gain access.

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Apple is looking to limit access to devices and action will be taken to protect devices starting in iOS 11.4. Apple will introduce something called USB Restricted Mode, which will institute a 7-day expiration date on access to the Lightning port of the iOS device. According to researchers who have played with a beta version of iOS 11.4, if the device hasn’t been unlocked or connected to a paired computer in the last 7 days using the passcode, the Lightning port will have no access to data and can only be used for charging.

Researchers at Elcomsoft wrote, “At this point, it is still unclear whether the USB port is blocked if the device has not been unlocked with a passcode for 7 consecutive days; if the device has not been unlocked at all (password or biometrics); or if the device has not been unlocked or connected to a trusted USB device or computer.

In our test, we were able to confirm the USB lock after the device has been left idle for 7 days. During this period, we have not tried to unlock the device with Touch ID or connect it to a paired USB device. What we do know, however, is that after the 7 days the Lightning port is only good for charging.”

iOS 11.4 won’t completely stop any nefarious user or law enforcement from cracking the passcode and gaining access to the iPhone, but it will put them on a time limit. Apple doesn’t specifically state this update is meant to thwart GrayKey, but it does say, “To improve security, for a locked iOS device to communicate with USB accessories you must connect an accessory via Lightning connector to the device while unlocked – or enter your device passcode while connected – at least once a week.”

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