Apple to close security flaw used by law enforcement to crack iPhones

Apple confirms it'll push cop-thwarting 'USB Restricted Mode' feature to iPhones

Apple confirms it'll push cop-thwarting 'USB Restricted Mode' feature to iPhones

APPLE HAS CONFIRMED that it'll close a loophole that allows law enforcement to exfiltrate data from locked iPhones. 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.

Grayshift, founded by a former Apple engineer, markets a $15,000 (£11,000) device created to help police exploit the security hole in the iPhone's current software.

Apple said its changes were made with criminals in mind who can exploit the same vulnerabilities as law enforcement to break into stolen phones. News of Apple's planned software update has begun spreading through security blogs and law enforcement circles-and many in investigative agencies are infuriated. In 2016, it went to court to fight an order that it break into an iPhone 5c used by a killer in San Bernardino.

To combat this, Apple incorporated the USB Restricted Mode, which disables any data transfer via the device's Lightning port if it hasn't been unlocked in seven days.

Citing the source, Digitimes said that the popularity and mass adoption of Type-C interface among other handset manufacturers will still depend on the adoption in Apple's iPhones.

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Apple refused to write the custom code, arguing that the company would be undermining its own security. Generally speaking, companies like Apple and Google have been cooperative when approached directly by law enforcement, as long as the request doesn't involve breaking device encryption.

Opening locked iPhones through these methods has become more common, law enforcement officials said.

On Wednesday, Apple said it was aware of the vulnerability and chose to patch it.

Then-FBI Director James Comey told Congress that without compelling Apple to write new software to facilitate the digital break-in, there would be no way to learn if the shooter's device contained evidence of a conspiracy. That has helped solve a series of cases in recent months, including by getting into an iPhone to find videos of a suspect sexually assaulting a child.

Thousands more were held by local and state law enforcement agencies, the report says, while the Federal Bureau of Investigation has about 7,000 devices - more than half of those seized during 2017. But the company has been a target of some in law enforcement for rejecting efforts to allow easy access to iPhones. And while the frustration is understandable, the fact is plenty of data and communications are stored in the cloud, untouched by device encryption.

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