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iOS will soon disable the USB connection if it stays stuck for a week

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In a move apparently designed specifically to thwart law enforcement, Apple adds a security feature to iOS that completely disables the data sent by USB if the device is not in use. not unlocked for a period of 7 days. This spoils many methods for exploiting this connection in order to coax information off the device without the consent of the user.

The feature, called USB Restricted Mode, was noticed for the first time by Elcomsoft researchers who were reviewing the iOS 11.4 code. It disables the USB data (it will always load) if the phone gets stuck for a week, reactivating it if it is unlocked normally.

Normally, when an iPhone is plugged into another device, be it the owner's computer or another, there is a data exchange where the phone and the computer recognize each other, s & # They are allowed to send or save data, and so on. This connection can be used if the connected computer is trying to enter the phone.

Restricted mode USB is probably a response to the fact that iPhones seized by law enforcement or malicious actors like thieves will essentially sit and wait patiently for this type of software exploit applied to them. If an agent collects a phone during an incident, but that there is no way to force the opening of the iOS version, no problem: just paste it as evidence and wait until a security guard sells the service at 0 days.

But what would happen if, a week after taking this phone, the ability of its own Lightning port to send or receive data or even reconnect to a computer was cut off? This would prevent the law from having the opportunity to break into the device unless they move with speed.

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On the other hand, if his owner had just left the phone at home during his vacation, he could pick it up, put his PIN in, and that's as if nothing had ever happened product. Like the best security measures, opponents curse its name while users do not even know that it exists. Really, it is one of those security features that seems obvious in retrospect and I would not be surprised if other phone manufacturers copy it in no time.

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If this feature had been put in place a few years ago, it would have prevented all this drama with the FBI. He betrayed his persistent inability to access a target phone for months, apparently hiding his own abilities during this time, likely to make him a political stake and manipulate lawmakers to compel Apple to help. This kind of demagoguery does not work very well with a delay of seven days.

This is not a perfect solution, of course, but there is no perfect security solution. This can simply force all investigations related to the iPhone to get a high priority in the courts, so that existing exploits can be legally enforced within the limit of 7 days (and, presumably, every few days by the after). However, this should be a powerful barrier against the type of potential potential access through undocumented third party exploits that seems to threaten even the latest models and OS versions.