Apple to cut down access to popular law-enforcement tool for cracking iPhones

Apple mentioned that it would be changing its iPhone settings to close iPhone security hole that police use to crack devices. This move is to protect all its users, especially in countries where phones are readily obtained by police officials or criminals with extensive resources.

The privacy measures have been a major bearer of the tech industry, and the Cupertino company said that it would change default settings in the iOS; this setting will cut off the communication through the USB port when the phone has not been unlocked in the past hour. That port is how machines made by forensic companies GrayShift, Cellebrite and others connect and get around the security provisions that limit the password guesses count before the device freezes them out or erases data. Now they will be unable to run code on the devices after the hour is up

An Apple spokesperson said that the change in settings would protect customers especially in countries where it is easy for law enforcement to seize and crack phones with fewer legal restrictions than under U.S. law. They also noted that criminals, spies and unscrupulous people often use the same techniques. After the company learned more about the methods, it reviewed the iPhone operating system code and improved security. Some of these methods have been leaked on the internet before. The setting switch had been documented in beta versions of iOS 11.4.1 and iOS 12.

Once these changes come into effect, police or hackers will typically have an hour or less to get a phone to a cracking machine. There is a chance that law enforcement or hackers would find another way, but Apple might close the vulnerability again.

Apple in a statement said:

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.

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