Apple makes sure law enforcement authorities can't break into iPhone

Apple makes sure law enforcement authorities can't break into iPhone

Apple makes sure law enforcement authorities can't break into iPhone

Eventually, the Federal Bureau of Investigation circumvented Apple and found a third party to get into the phone, paying the undisclosed group $1.3 million.

An Apple spokesman said that the software update helps prevent hackers from targeting personal information stored on smartphones and any impact on law enforcement was an unintended side effect.

Apple has said it was strengthening encryption on its iPhones to thwart police efforts to unlock handsets without legitimate authorization.

The USB Restricted Mode will disable the data transfer via the Lightning port after one hour from the last time when the smartphone was locked.

The iPhone operating system will now cut off communication through the USB port when the phone has not been unlocked in the past hour, the report said. That's because law enforcement authorities will now have to buy many more units in order to have one within one hour of an iPhone seized as evidence. The update fixes a vulnerability that could be exploited by bad actors and police alike, the company said.

On Wednesday, Apple said it was aware of the vulnerability and chose to patch it.

"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.

Apple and Google, which make the software in almost all of the world's smartphones, began encrypting their mobile software in 2014. Anybody who wants to access the data will have to enter the phone's password. Apple still chose not to cooperate, with CEO Tim Cook releasing a letter that read, "The implications of the government's demands are chilling".

The two sides fought in court for a month. Apple has added USB-C ports to its MacBook lineup, while Digitimes' source also notes that the tweak will affect 2019 iPads as well.

The FBI and other law enforcement agencies have bypassed Apple by paying companies that specialize in extracting data from locked iPhones, such as Grayshift and Cellebrite. Forensic companies have marketed their unlocking devices to law enforcement in multiple countries, offering to sell the devices for thousands of dollars or unlock a single cell phone for as little as $50. In March, Grayshift began selling a device worth $15,000, which allowed authorities to do the unlocking themselves.

Apple has closed loopholes in the past.

But Jay Kaplan of cybersecurity firm Synack doesn't think it will be long before other techniques for getting into iPhones become available.

Cellebrite declined to comment.

The FBI didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Several companies provide similar services to unlock iPhones.

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