Apple iOS 11.4.1 officially adds USB Restricted Mode, blocking hacking tools

FBI agent on a phone

Apple releases iOS 11.4.1 with USB Restricted Mode

You can, however, find USB Restricted Mode under the Touch ID & Passcode section of the Settings app as "USB Accessories". As now implemented, the feature is even more restrictive: When turned on, it will "prevent USB accessories from connecting when your [iPhone/iPad] has been locked for more than an hour".

They suggest using the $39 Apple Lightning USB3 Camera Adapter. It seems, however, that pressing matters may have forced Apple to nearly silently roll out its USB Restricted Mode feature in the new iOS 11.4.1 update.

Importantly, this technique would only work if the iOS device is not already in USB Restricted Mode when captured.

What USB Restricted Mode does is to block data communications over the Lightning port an hour after the iPhone or iPad was last unlocked.

Of course, this only works if the device hadn't entered in USB Restricted Mode by the time the police obtained it. The trick, then, is to attach a USB accessory to the port as soon as possible after stealing (or seizing) the iPhone, in order to stop it from locking down.

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What we discovered is that iOS will reset the USB Restrictive Mode countdown timer even if one connects the iPhone to an untrusted USB accessory, one that has never been paired to the iPhone before (well, in fact the accessories do not require pairing at all).

The research team isn't sure if third-party adaptors have a similar effect, but this same method can't be achieved with Apple's Lightning to 3.5mm adaptor.

Today, Apple released iOS 11.4.1 for iPhones and iPads-a small update that fixes a couple bugs and introduces a new security feature.

Greyshift claimed it had already worked around that restriction but it might not have to, at least not for a while. Prior to iOS 11.4.1, isolating the iPhone inside a Faraday bag and connecting it to a battery pack would be enough to safely transport it to the lab. While iOS 11.4.1 is likely the final update before iOS 12, this bug could force Apple to push out 11.4.2 quickly. Elcomsoft is a company that makes forensic tools for governments and law enforcement, so it is in the company's interest to break this new lock. That seems to be the case for Apple's latest controversial security feature which was initially expected for iOS 12 in a few months.

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