Yesterday was dominated by Google I/O so this little iOS nugget may have slipped past your radar. iOS 11.4 beta is introducing a new USB Restricted Mode which could help battle devices such as GrayKey. GrayKey is a new device developed to help law enforcement crack iPhone encryption thus giving them access to locked iPhones. GrayKey has raised a lot of concern with some believing that its technology will quickly be cloned and available for non-law enforcement entities. There’s also the debate over whether law enforcement may overreach their bounds with GrayKey.
In a blog post made by Elcomsoft, they go over USB Restricted Mode with a good amount of detail, so hit the link below for a comprehensive outline. Basically, USB Restricted Mode will lock out the iPhone’s Lightning port from transmitting data after 7-days. That’s 7-days if the iPhone has not been unlocked or connected to a trusted computer in those 7-days.
The functionality of USB Restricted Mode is actually very simple. Once the iPhone or iPad is updated to the latest version of iOS supporting the feature, the device will disable the USB data connection over the Lightning port one week after the device has been last unlocked.
At this point, it is still unclear whether the USB port is blocked if the device has not been unlocked with a passcode for 7 consecutive days; if the device has not been unlocked at all (password or biometrics); or if the device has not been unlocked or connected to a trusted USB device or computer. In our test, we were able to confirm the USB lock after the device has been left idle for 7 days. During this period, we have not tried to unlock the device with Touch ID or connect it to a paired USB device. What we do know, however, is that after the 7 days the Lightning port is only good for charging.
So this limits the usefulness of devices like GrayKey if the device hasn’t been unlocked or used in 7-days. At this point, it looks like Apple is really going to bat for its user’s privacy. Seven days seems like a long stretch and we’d love to see that shortened. Perhaps it will be should the feature make it out of the beta stage and into the stable version of iOS.
Last Updated on May 9, 2018.