Apple Confirms It Will Lock iPhone Lightning Port to Protect Users from Law Enforcement
Jun 13, 2018, 3:56 PM by Eric M. Zeman
Apple today said it will change the behavior of iPhones in order to protect its users. The company plans to alter its software to lock the Lightning port of iOS devices that are not used for an hour. The function, called USB Restricted Mode, prevents data transfer via USB, though the phone can still charge through a Lightning cable. The idea is to thwart law enforcement use of GrayShift and Cellebrite boxes, which are able to crack iOS security using a direct USB connection through the Lightning port. The devices work by disabling the number of times passwords/PINs can be guessed by the machine before the iPhone is locked or erased. "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," said Apple in a statement to Reuters. "We have the greatest respect for law enforcement, and we don’t design our security improvements to frustrate their efforts to do their jobs." The Lightning port will be re-enabled for data transfer once the owner enters their password, PIN, fingerprint, or Face ID. Apple primarily expects the feature to protect consumers "in countries where police seize phones at will." Researchers discovered USB Restricted Mode in beta builds of iOS 10.4 last month. Apple told Reuters that it will be added permanently to iOS in a future release.
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