Apple confirms new iOS feature to counter police tool for hacking into iPhones

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Apple today confirmed a new feature that’s coming soon to iOS to improve user privacy and security.

Apple will update iOS so that communication through the USB port will be blocked if the iPhone has not been unlocked within the past hour. The change is meant to protect all consumers, Apple told Reuters, especially those in countries where phones are easily obtained by police or criminals with extensive resources.

Some law enforcement and criminals use machines from GrayShift, Cellebrite, and other companies to connect to iPhones and get around the iOS feature that limits how many password attempts can be made before the phone wipes itself. While Apple’s new feature may not completely eliminate that from happening, it could cut it by up to 90 percent because the person will have just an hour or less to get into the device.

In its confirmation of this new feature, Apple also made sure to explain that it isn’t rolling it out specifically to thwart police:

“We’re constantly strengthening the security protections in every Apple product to help customers defend against hackers, identity thieves and intrusions into their personal data. We have the greatest respect for law enforcement, and we don’t design our security improvements to frustrate their efforts to do their jobs.”

This new feature could be somewhat controversial, as some police and government officials have tried to get Apple to make it easier for them to get into iPhones for their investigations. It’ll be good for helping consumers protect their data against thieves and hackers, though, and so it’ll be a good reason for iPhone owners to update whenever the feature is released to the public.

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