Published: Tue, July 10, 2018
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

Cheap device could stall Apple's new USB port lock

Cheap device could stall Apple's new USB port lock

It seems, however, that pressing matters may have forced Apple to nearly silently roll out its USB Restricted Mode feature in the new iOS 11.4.1 update. As ElcomSoft writes, there are quite high chances of a device being seized within an hour since its last unlock.

Restricted Mode is activated if the iPhone or iPad is left locked for more than hour.

The team of researchers at ElcomSoft have reiterated that once the USB Restricted Mode is enabled, it restricts all the data communications that occur over the Lightning port. That means if that someone plugs in a device like the GrayKey, favored by police forces in the U.S., they won't be able to break the passcode protection and access the data on your phone. Law enforcement could also tactically observe a suspect, waiting for them to unlock their phone at least once, before apprehending them.

Apple is rolling out iOS 11.4.1 for iPhones and iPads everywhere.

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However, if a cop gets to seize a locked iPhone until the next iOS update that brings fix to this flaw, they can potentially get around the USB Restricted Mode through a USB accessory. Limitations in the MFI specification may make this easier to say than do however.

You'll now find a toggle switch labeled "USB Accessories" in the Touch ID & Passcode section of the Settings app labeled "USB Accessories".

A really interesting tidbit from the ElcomSoft report is that since iOS 11.4, Grayshift's boxes are already weakened significantly.

Essentially, after one hour of non-use, an iOS 11.4.1 handheld will not talk to any device plugged into its charging port - other than to receive power to charge its battery - until a valid passcode is entered via the screen. However, this doesn't mean that the USB connectivity with an Apple device is entirely safe. Security is always a moving target - we'll have to see how the iOS cracking industry responds to Apple's latest defences.

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