Apple unveiled iOS 12 at WWDC 2018 earlier this month, talking about a lot of the new features and performance improvements. But, it seems like there’s also a new important security feature it didn’t talk about and that is soon going to put an end to the ‘GreyKey’ tool that law enforcement uses to break into locked or encrypted iPhones.
The GreyKey tool is known to use an undisclosed technique to override the default device encryption. Ever since this handy tool came into existence, the FBI hasn’t bugged Apple to help them break into an iPhone. They’ve been merrily collecting evidence by breaking through the encryption, but not for very long.
Apple is planning to regain control over the security of its devices and will be rolling out a new ‘USB Restricted Mode’ in iOS 12 that’ll make an iPhone useless and the GreyKey tool worthless, as reported by Reuters. This feature has been present in both iOS 11.4.1 and iOS developer beta builds, which confirms that it is currently under testing and should roll out to the public soon.
The ‘USB Restricted’ mode will limit data and communication access to the lightning port of an iPhone if the device hasn’t been unlocked in the past hour. You will only be able to use the lightning port for charging purposes once the one hour limit is reached. In an official statement, Apple told Reuters that,
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. We have the greatest respect for law enforcement, and we don’t design our security improvements to frustrate their efforts to do their jobs.
While Apple denies that the restriction (or improvement, as they put it) isn’t intended to hinder law enforcement activities, it will again spark a debate between the company and the FBI. The law enforcement officials will have to rush to a crime scene to get access to the iPhone, use GreyKey, and unlock it.
This feature, however, is well-thought and shows that Apple is ready to go to any lengths to prevent other from impeding on your iPhone’s privacy. It may diminish the number of iPhone hijacking incidents as FBI’s hackers will need other complex methods to break into the phone. What are your thoughts on this feature? Let us know in the comments below.