Apple moves to block iPhone 'cracking' method used by authorities

Sheri Evans
May 10, 2018

Apple's beef with law enforcement first surfaced in 2016, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation demanded that Apple unlock an iPhone 5C that belonged to one of the San Bernardino gunmen killed by police.

At this moment, the latest iOS release is version 11.3.1, which was introduced on April 24.

USB Restricted Mode was actually present in the iOS 11.3 beta as well, but was removed from the public release for unknown reasons. If a passcode hasn't been entered in seven days, "you must connect an accessory via lightning connector to the device while unlocked".

Apple is beta testing the iOS 11.4 operating system, which will be made available for the select iPhones and iPads in the upcoming days. This basically locks the device in a way that it can not be restored or updated via iTunes after the threshold period is met. Considering the time required for the brute force unlock of an iOS device, this feature will further prevent the third party personnel to access the data on a device running on iOS 11.4.

The device has the ability to bypass encryption and unlock an iPhone by guessing the passcode over and over again until it gets it right. Even the "Trust this computer?" prompt will not be displayed once the device is connected to the computer, and any existing lockdown records (iTunes pairing records) will not be honoured until the user unlocks the device with a passcode.

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Also in this regard, a series of tweets emerged on the official Twitter page of Mark Gurman who brings us more details regarding what iOS 13 might offer to iPhone and iPad users.

The functionality of USB Restricted Mode is actually very simple. "The only thing you'll be able to do is charging".

It will take some time for a compromise between device manufacturers and law enforcement that will both protect user privacy and give investigators access to data they require for their investigations.

According to multiple reports, Apple is predictably hard at work on iOS 11's successor, aptly named iOS 12.

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