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iOS 11.4 Secret Feature: What Can You Do With 'USB Restricted Mode'?

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Apple is rolling out a new security feature with iOS 11.4 that makes it difficult to gain access to one's iPhone.

iOS 11.4 To Feature 'USB Restricted Mode'

In the latest iOS 11.4 beta, Apple has added a new feature called "USB Restricted Mode," which disables data transfer over USB if the phone has not been unlocked for a week. 

This is how it works; if an iPhone has not been unlocked for seven days using the passcode, the feature will keep USB accessories from connecting to the phone's Lightning port, which can then only be used to charge the device.

Once an iPhone or iPad is updated to the latest version of iOS, the device will not allow any data to be transferred over the Lightning port if the device remains locked for one week.  

The feature first made its debut in the iOS 11.3 beta, but was removed from the final release. Now, it's back and looks like it will make it to the final version of the new iOS build. 

Apple's New Update Will Render The GrayKey Device Useless

This move is bound to frustrate law enforcement and could be Apple's response to the iPhone-cracking tool called GrayKey, which cops are using to unlock iPhones locked with a passcode.  

The device has the ability to bypass encryption and unlock an iPhone by guessing the passcode over and over again until it gets it right. All one needs to do is plug it into the iPhone's Lightning port and GrayKey will unlock the device in as soon as three hours to as long as three days depending on the length and complexity of the passcode.

The iPhone-cracking device is a useful tool but it comes at a price. Priced between $15,000 and $30,000, the device won't burn a hole in the pockets of the FBI, CIA, or the police. However, with the new feature, if law enforcement agencies need to hack into an iPhone running the latest iOS build, they need to do it within the seven-day window.

"In other words, law enforcement will have at most 7 days from the time the device was last unlocked to perform the extraction using any known forensic techniques, be it logical acquisition or passcode recovery via GreyKey or other services," noted ElcomSoft's Oleg Afonin. 

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