Some of you might have heard that several law enforcement agencies have managed to get their hands on devices that can supposedly unlock iPhones without the need for Apple’s help. Unsurprisingly this is something that Apple isn’t too thrilled about, although a report from Motherboard has revealed that Apple might have found a way to beat it.

The report claims that Apple has been testing out a feature in iOS called USB Restricted Mode. The feature is said to be part of the iOS 12 beta although Apple has reportedly been including it in some iOS beta releases since at least iOS 11.3. Basically what this feature does is that when it detects that the iPhone has not been unlocked for an hour and is connected to a USB accessory, users are required to unlock it via a passcode (assuming one has been set).

This effectively would result in iPhone unlocking devices made by companies such as Cellebrite or GrayShift being rendered useless. Speaking to Motherboard, Ryan Duff, a security researcher who has studied iPhone and is Director of Cyber Solutions at Point3 Security said, “That pretty much kills [GrayShift’s product] GrayKey and Cellebrite,. If it actually does what it says and doesn’t let ANY type of data connection happen until it’s unlocked, then yes. You can’t exploit the device if you can’t communicate with it.”

As Motherboard notes, the one hour time limit has been changed where previously it was set at one week. This is said to be in response to GrayShift who have been telling their customers (law enforcement) to unlock iPhones as soon as they obtain it. By narrowing the timeframe considerably, it means that law enforcement has even less time than before to unlock these devices.

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