Technology

Apple’s iOS 11.4 Restrict USB Access On iPhone Locked For 7 Days

Apple, security feature, iOS 11.4, USB Restricted Mode
helloolly / Pixabay

Apple might introduce another security feature – the USB Restricted Mode – in the final iOS 11.4 version. The said feature could make it even harder for law enforcement authorities to unlock iPhones. The beta version of the iOS 11.4 has already been released, and the final version will arrive soon.

Researchers from Elcomsoft were the first to discover the new security feature, which would restrict data connection over an iPhone’s lightning port. “In our test, we were able to confirm the USB lock after the device has been left idle for 7 days,” the researchers said.

The USB Restricted Mode is capable of disabling the lightning port’s data connection a week after the last time the iOS device was unlocked. Since the new security feature only disables the data connection capabilities of the lightning port, there would supposedly be no impact on charging, and the users would be able to do that as before.

“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,” read the official description of the new security feature.

Apple – in its development document – notes that the USB Restricted Mode has been put in place to heighten the security of both the iPhone and iPad. The company, it seems, does not want to leave any opening for miscreants, who seek user data without their permission. Putting it simply, the USB Restricted Mode means that law enforcement officials or hackers have only a week – from the time the phone was last unlocked – to access the data through unlocking tools such as GrayKey.

Such tools use the lightning port for installing software to crack the passcode of an iOS device. It implies that the officials would need to get the passcode in just a matter of days, a humongous restriction on an otherwise free run earlier.

Companies like Grayshift offer tools to law enforcement to unlock the iOS devices. Such companies keep their working secretive to prevent Apple from coming out with a patch to close the loophole. However, with the USB Restricted Mode, the company does not have to bother about such tools because the time has been restricted to a week. So, even if there are some loopholes in the iOS, the new mode would possibly cover it.

Apple’s latest security feature was initially launched with the iOS 11.3 beta, but could not make it to the final version, notes MacRumors. Therefore, there is no guarantee that it would be there in the iOS 11.4 final version.

Apple’s new security feature in the iOS 11.4 will complement recent security features introduced through iOS 11 updates. Earlier, the expiration date for local backup techniques was introduced in the iOS 11 update. Then with iOS 11.3, more stringent limits were added, cutting down the access to just one week.

Apart from this security feature, Apple is bringing in several exciting updates with the iOS 11.4. One of them is AirPlay, which was introduced at WWDC 2017 but could not materialize since then. The upgrade would come as a major boost for Apple’s media streaming technology that sends audio and video to compatible devices, something similar to Google Cast technology. The protocol was first introduced in 2004 as “Air Tunes.” The feature has been expanded since then to include video streaming and screen mirroring.

Another much-awaited update is adding message support in iCloud. The messages would now sync with the cloud and download to the logged-in devices. If a message is deleted on one device, it would be updated on all the devices as well. So, going forward, the user would not be confused with the out-of-sync message histories between a user’s Mac, iPad and iPhone.

Separately, at the WWDC event, which will run from June 4-8, the company is expected to launch the iPhone SE 2. There are a few leaks suggesting that the SE 2 would be devoid of Touch ID, hinting that it would also support Face ID just like all the other flagships released recently. Further, the largely expected SE 2 would retain the small screen, and the back panel would be made of glass.

A report from 9To5Mac suggests that wireless charging would also make its way to the SE 2. Leaked renders of the handset shows the 3.5 mm headphone jack, contrary to recent rumors. Separately, Digitimes suggests that the rear glass body is most likely, but do not expect 3D sensing capabilities.

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