Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
Electronics | By Shannon Stone

IOS 12 will block police hacking tools - Apple

IOS 12 will block police hacking tools - Apple

While this will likely make it more hard for law enforcement officials to access iPhones, it could result in the purchase of more GrayKey devices as they look to get them closer to where seizures occur.

It was first reported by various new outlets, including Reuters and The New York Times.

The iPhone operating system will now cut off communication through the USB port when the phone has not been unlocked in the past hour, the report said.

Forensic companies that once employed machines to break through security provisions will now have only an hour to run code on the devices.

Law enforcement had previously been able to break into and obtain data from phones by connecting them to devices running special software, bypassing the phone's security features. Under USB Restricted Mode, an iPhone's Lightning port - where the battery charger, headphones and adapters are plugged - will be disabled in an hour after the iPhone is locked. Additionally, the company notes that criminals, spies, and malicious characters can use the same techniques to access to your data. Some of the methods most prized by intelligence agencies have been leaked on the internet.

However, Apple denied the changes were created to thwart United States law enforcement.

Apple this week confirmed that the much-talked-about feature, which has been present in developer betas for both iOS 12 and iOS 11.4.1, will be released to the public in a future software update.

Security blogger Graham Cluley however views the update as a positive. It chose to simply alter the setting, a cruder way of preventing most of the potential access by unfriendly parties. Ironically, the big victor of this change will be companies like Cellebrite and GrayShift that make the cracking machines.

On Wednesday, Apple framed its decision to tighten iPhone security even further as part of its crusade to protect the highly personal information that its customers store on their phones.

The move is controversial because law enforcement uses these unlocking tools to access iPhone units involved in criminal investigations.

Given USB-C's growing popularity, moving to a third proprietary connector might be less appealing than simply adopting USB-C across more of the Apple product line.

But in 2016 Apple refused to help police unlock a phone used by a gunman who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California. The FBI ultimately found a contractor that broke into the phone without Apple's cooperation.

Apple, however, has seen an uptick from the US government in seeking information from its devices or accounts. The FBI blamed "programming errors". They also say that weakening encryption by design would lead to more hacking by those outside of government.

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