Apple: iPhones will now be even harder for law enforcement to crack

CUPERTINO — Apple is closing a loophole that allowed law enforcement to crack open an iPhone, making it harder for anyone but the owner to access the smartphone’s contents.

The fix, however, may reignite a firestorm of words that occurred in 2016 between Apple and the Federal Bureau of Investigation over accessing the iPhone of San Bernardino mass-shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. Apple refused to cooperate in opening the locked iPhone, and the FBI soon circumvented Apple by employing a third-party company to unlock the phone.

Apple’s planned fix comes in the form of a new feature called “USB Restricted Mode.” 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. After the hour mark, only the owner’s passcode will be able to unlock the iPhone.

The USB Restricted Mode will arrive in an upcoming software update. The locked iPhone will still be able to charge with a Lightning battery charger.

“At Apple, we put the customer at the center of everything we design,” Apple said in a statement to this news organization. “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.”

In its statement, Apple also emphasized that this fix to the loophole — which law enforcement agencies across the United States increasingly relied on to collect information on criminal suspects, according to the New York Times — was not a targeted attack against the authorities.

“We have the greatest respect for law enforcement, and we don’t design our security improvements to frustrate their efforts to do their jobs,” said Apple.

After the FBI was able to crack Farook’s iPhone, other authorities used third-party services like Grayshift — which was founded …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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