Apple tests improved protection against unlocking tools in iOS 12 beta

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Apple has reintroduced a feature called “usb restricted mode” in the beta version of iOS 12 and iOS 11.4.1, after it appeared in a different form in previous versions. This mode should protect against unlocking tools, which are used, for example, by investigative services.

Image via Motherboard

The feature variant in Apple’s most recent betas has been fine-tuned than previous versions, for example in the iOS 11.3 beta, Motherboard writes. In addition, the feature would be enabled by default in the iOS 12 and 11.4.1 betas. Restricted mode means that an iPhone must be unlocked for use with USB accessories. In previous versions, this was necessary if more than a week had passed since the last unlock. In the new betas, this period would have been reduced to one hour. So far, however, the feature has never made it to a stable iOS release.

According to Ryan Duff, a security novice who spoke to the site, this feature makes unlocking tools useless, provided iOS does not allow any data connection via USB until the device is unlocked. He is referring to tools from companies such as Cellebrite and Grayshift. According to previous reports, the latter company, an American start-up, sells a device that can be used to break into iPhones with iOS 10 and 11, for example. To do this, the device in question must be connected to the so-called GrayKey device via USB.

It’s unclear if and when Apple will include the feature in a stable release. The company did not respond to questions from Motherboard. The same goes for Grayshift and Cellebrite. Apple presented its latest version of iOS on Monday evening.

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