Cops and criminals have been able to hack into iPhones using tools like the GrayKey box for years now. However, this era will soon end with the release of iOS 12 as Apple is finally doing something about this.
Word of this change first started seeping in a few months ago when it was reported that iOS 11.4 would activate the feature. That release has arrived, but it seems Apple has reserved the new functionality for the iOS 11.4.1 and iOS 12 betas which are currently being tested.
How Apple’s New iPhone Feature Works
Apple told Reuters that the tool will be switched on by default in a forthcoming general release, probably iOS 12. Users will have to go to Settings to switch it off. As for what it does, the shift will switch off access to the Lightning port when an iPhone hasn’t been unlocked for an hour.
Basically, this means that the Lightning port will be disabled after an hour of inactivity. People won’t be able to connect it to a computer through a cable unless they unlock the handset first. The change is a big blow against machines made by forensic companies such as GrayShift and Cellebrite.
Devices like the GrayKey box typically need several hours to guess an iPhone’s password. The person trying to gain access has to plug in the smartphone to the machine and then wait while it brute force guesses passwords. There is a much more limited window of opportunity now to do this.
Apple’s new measures have already made law enforcement officials in the US angry. They now have just about an hour to get an iPhone to a cracking device and hope it gets the job done before time runs out. On the flip side, even hackers will suffer from this change.
This is the point of view which Apple is emphasizing. From its perspective, it’s plugging in a security hole and not actively trying to frustrate the police. Its main focus is on protecting all customers, especially those who stay in countries where iPhones are readily obtained by cops or criminals.