Apple’s iOS 11.4.1 feature keeps cops from cracking into your iPhone

Apple launches iOS 11.4.1 with ‘USB Restricted Mode’ that prevents cops from cracking suspect’s iPhones

  • Apple on Monday rolled out iOS 11.4.1, the latest update for iPhones and iPads
  • iOS 11.4.1 includes a highly-anticipated ‘USB Restricted Mode’, which is designed to prevent third-party Lightning devices from gaining access after an hour or so
  • Law enforcement have increasingly looked to ‘GrayKey’ technology to gain access to iPhones and iPads – a practice widely decried by privacy advocates
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Apple’s latest mobile software update will make it harder for police to break into your phone without your permission.

‘USB Restricted Mode’ is a feature included in iOS 11.4.1, released on Monday, that’s designed to protect against USB accessories that connect to the iPhone’s Lightning port. 

The tool comes after it was revealed that US law enforcement agencies were eyeing a technology called ‘GrayKey’ which can easily crack open locked iPhones. 

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Apple’s latest mobile software update will make it harder for police to break into your phone. A tool called ‘USB Restricted Mode’ blocks USB Accessories from extracting or sending data

USB Restricted Mode is located in Settings, under the Face ID & Passcode/Touch ID & Passcode tab. 

Near the bottom, there’s a toggle to turn on ‘USB Accessories.’ 

In the 11.4.1 release, Apple explains that the USB Accessories setting will be turned off by default. 

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‘If you don’t connect to USB accessories regularly, you might need to turn on this setting manually,’ the firm noted. 

‘…When the USB Accessories setting is off, as in the image above, you might need to unlock your iOS device to connect USB accessories.’

When USB Accessories is turned off, if your iPhone or iPad has been locked for more than hour, iOS will prevent USB accessories from connecting to the device. 


When USB Accessories is turned off, if your iPhone or iPad has been locked for more than hour, iOS will prevent USB accessories from connecting to the device


In the 11.4.1 release, Apple explains that the USB Accessories setting will be turned off by default. Also included in the software updates are fixes for the AirPods and other bugs 

Users can still charge their phone or tablet, but data can’t be sent to or from the Lightning port when the device is in this mode.   

If users want to continue using accessories even after their device has been locked for more than hour, the USB Accessories feature can be toggled on. 

USB Restricted Mode is also expected to be included in iOS 12, which will be released to the public later this year.  

The move is widely expected to help avert the use of technologies like GrayKey, however, Apple says it didn’t devise the feature with that objective specifically in mind.

‘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,’ Apple said in a statement to the Verge.    

‘We have the greatest respect for law enforcement, and we don’t design our security improvements to frustrate their efforts to do their jobs.’    


USB Restricted Mode should help prevent the use of GrayKey (pictured), a technology developed by a shadowy tech firm that enables cops to bypass locked iPhones

HOW DOES GRAYKEY WORK?

GrayKey is a box that’s four inches wide by four inches deep that has two lightning cables sticking out of the front of the device. 

Officials connect up to two iPhones at once to the box for about two minutes. 

Then, after anywhere from two hours to three days, the phone will display a black screen showing the device’s passcode and other information.

Once the device is unlocked, the data is downloaded from GrayKey and can be viewed on a computer. 

According to Malwarebytes, GrayKey works on almost any iPhone model and any devices running iOS 11. 

Police can pay $15,000 (£10,500) for the device, though it can only be accessed with an internet connection and for up to 300 uses. 

Another version costs $30,000 (£21,000), requires no internet connection and comes with unlimited use.

It’s been rumored for several months that Apple was prepping a restricted mode for its phones and tablets after beta testers spotted such a feature. 

GrayKey, which is developed by shadowy Atlanta-based startup Grayshift, is being utilized by more and more law enforcement agencies.  

It’s a small, 4×4 box that can unlock two iPhones at a time using lightning cables.

To use it, cops connect an iPhone to the box for about two minutes.

Then, after anywhere from two hours to three days, the phone will display a black screen showing the device’s passcode and other information, according to Malwarebytes.

Currently, anyone who’s obtained physical access to an iPhone has to have a passcode or fingerprint authentication to unlock it and access data like contact lists, messages or photos.

After several incorrect attempts to unlock an iPhone, the device disables further attempts by increasing the amount of time in between each guess.

The iPhone may also delete a user’s data after too many incorrect guesses.


GrayKey, which is developed by Atlanta-based startup Grayshift, is being utilized by more and more law enforcement agencies. To use it, cops connect an iPhone to the box for two minutes


After anywhere from two hours to three days, the phone will display a black screen showing the device’s passcode and other information. It gives cops an easy way to crack open iPhones

GrayKey provides an easy way for police to crack open an iPhone, which encrypts user data by default.

For that reason, more and more federal and local law enforcement are interested in buying the device. 

The US Secret Service intends on buying about six of the GrayKey boxes to unlock iPhones, Motherboard noted.

Meanwhile, the US State Department has already purchased the technology and the Drug Enforcement Administration is looking into it.

The FBI is also interested in buying GrayKey boxes.

Additionally, police in Maryland and Indiana have already bought or are thinking about buying it.   

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