Apple’s upcoming performance-focused iOS 12 update may not add as many game-changing new features as the platform’s bug-ridden previous version, but one security enhancement reportedly in the pipeline is likely to make many iPhone users very happy while infuriating law enforcement officers around the world.
The USB Restricted Mode functionality that iOS 11.4 beta testers have had access to for over a month will apparently be “made permanent in a forthcoming general release.” Apple made that official in conversations with Reuters reporters, although the company bizarrely declined to confirm the information to The Verge.
It’s possible the initial public iOS 12 release in the fall will miss out on the GrayKey-thwarting feature, but sooner or later, the nefarious work of hackers and identity thieves will be cut out.
A minor subsequent update could enable the USB Restricted Mode, which basically blocks unauthorized access to an iPhone’s Lightning port just one hour after the handset’s last successful unlock. You’ll still be able to charge the device, mind you, but connecting any type of peripheral, like Grayshift’s GrayKey, to the USB port will require another unlock.
Security researchers believe this will pretty much eliminate unauthorized passcode hacks, although police officers and hackers may still get in if and when they’re able to obtain an iPhone within minutes of its rightful owner’s last contact.
Apple, of course, insists it’s not looking to “frustrate the efforts” of law enforcement officers “to do their jobs”, simply consolidating its own efforts of “constantly strengthening the security protections in every Apple product to help customers defend against intrusions into their personal data.” But it’s obvious where the company stands on the controversial encryption subject.