Apple is changing its iPhone settings in order to make it harder for hackers and law enforcement to break into the devices.
The tech industry giant will do so by changing default settings in the iPhone operating system so as to cut off communication through the USB port and make it impenetrable when the phone has not been unlocked within the past hour.
This the company says, is aimed at protecting all customers, especially those ones in countries where phones are readily obtained by police or by criminals having extensive resources and access to unlocking tools, as well as to head off further spread of the attack technique.
The GrayKey, a device made by forensic company GrayShift, exploits the USB port in order to connect and get around the security provisions which place limits on how many password guesses can be made before a device freezes one out or erases data.
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Law enforcement agencies around the world have invested heavily on these GrayKey boxes that can decrypt any locked iPhone in as little as two hours, but now, with the upcoming iOS update, a “USB Restricted Mode” will be included that will, shut off data access on the port leaving them unable to run code on the devices after the hour is up, and effectively rendering the GrayKey useless.
The USB Restricted Mode had been documented in beta versions of iOS 11.4.1 and iOS12, and this time around, Apple will be making it a permanent feature in iOS final builds.
With the upcoming update, you’ll still normally use the phone’s Lightning port when the device is unlocked. Data access on the port, however, will completely shut off 10 minutes after it has been locked. You can charge the phone while it’s locked, since the power still works.
Without USB enabled data connectivity, the GrayKey can’t hack the passcode since it will be unable to worm its way into the system.
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