Apple Enables USB Restricted Mode by Default in iOS 11.4.1

Credit    Apple

Apple today released iOS 11.4.1, a minor bugfix release aimed at squashing some lingering bugs in the OS. The security feature is created to restrict the use of the USB port to block iPhone cracking tools from breaking into the iOS devices. The device also needs to be in either DFU Mode or Recovery Mode.

If however someone does get to a phone within that hour period, they can shove in a USB accessory and prevent the smartphone from going into restricted mode until they have a chance to attach a cracking box later on. The toggle is off by default, and that's how you'll want it in order to use the feature.

Elcomsoft engineer Oleg Afonin noted that testing showed that once USB Restricted Mode kicks in, there is no obvious way to break it. "However, we discovered a workaround..." Significant but not listed: USB Restricted Mode, a change originally included in the iOS 12 beta that makes it more hard for anyone, including authorities, to break into the iPhone through the Lightning port.

What ElcomSoft note is that any USB accessory can be plugged into the iOS device within the hour safe window, and this prevents the timeout from ever being reset. USB Restricted Mode will be optional, of course; users can enable or disable it via their device's settings menu. Those tools end up in lawmakers' hands but, potentially, criminals as well. The researcher also underlined that with the release of iOS 11.4.1, the procedure of "properly seizing and transporting" an iPhone could include a compatible Lightning accessory.

Afonin said Elcomsoft's testing showed that most if not all third party and official Apple USB accessories could be used to bypass the USB data port locking.

Apple hasn't commented yet, but we can assume that a patch will be landing soon.

This seems like an oversight on Apple's part, and it's possible the company will fix this in a future update. Naturally, due to how often people use their iPhones, it is uncommon for the device not to have been unlocked in the last hour.

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