New USB Restricted Mode By Apple: iPhone’s latest security feature!
Mode By Apple: iPhone’s latest security feature
Apple quietly introduced a significant privacy safeguard as part of the new iOS 11.4.1
update that was released on July 9th.
USB Restricted Mode prevents USB accessories
that plug into the Lightning port from
making data connections with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch if your iOS device has been
locked for over an hour.
This seemingly small change goes a long way in blocking tools used by law enforcement to
crack passcodes and circumvent Apple’s encryption and built-in measures designed to shield
sensitive user data.
What is USB Restricted Mode?
Apple describes it as a new “security protection” that are introduced as part of iOS 11.4.1.
The company hasn’t said as much,
but it’s believed that USB Restricted Mode is Apple’s effort to combat devices like GrayKey
that are specially designed to help law enforcement crack an iOS device’s passcode and
retrieve data that would normally be guarded by encryption.
iOS has built-in security features that prevent constant passcode guesses — such as when
it locks down your device after several incorrect attempts. But companies have seemingly
found a way of avoiding those safeguards via USB and the Lightning port.
Now, Apple is trying to eliminate this method of gaining entry to a recovered or confiscated device.
USB Restricted Mode works like this:
after an hour of your iPhone, iPad, or iPod
limit it to charging only.
This hour timeout should theoretically stop devices like GrayKey (which plugs into an
iPhone and cracks the passcode within a few hours) from working successfully.
“If you don’t first unlock your password-protected iOS device — or you haven’t unlocked
and connected it to a USB accessory within the past hour — your iOS device won’t
communicate with the accessory or computer, and in some cases, it might not
charge” reads Apple’s support page on the security feature.
USB Restricted Mode is enabled by default after the update
Once you’ve installed iOS 11.4.1, Apple automatically turns on USB Restricted Mode right away.
So you’ll need to unlock your iPhone or iPad to connect a USB accessory and get it working.
Accessories might not be able to charge your iPhone unless you unlock it first
iOS devices will charge normally when connected to a USB power adapter, but if you plug
in a gadget that normally delivers power over USB, you might have to unlock your iPhone or
iPad first before things work (and charge) like normal.
This is going to vary from the accessory to accessory.
It’s easy to turn off USB Restricted Mode
If you’re not concerned about someone potentially breaking their way into your iOS device,
you can disable the new security measure immediately.
Just go to Settings —> Face ID (or Touch ID) & Passcode —> USB Accessories.
Toggle this option to on (green) and your accessories will function the exact same way they
did before iOS 11.4.1.
Apple says this might be a good idea for people who use assistive devices with their iPhone,
iPad, or iPod Touch. “Many assistive devices will automatically turn on the setting to allow
But if that doesn’t happen, disabling USB Restricted Mode just takes a quick visit to the
USB Restricted Mode isn’t foolproof
Soon after the feature’s release, it was reported by iHackiT that plugging in a USB
is enough to reset the 60-minute clock and prevent your iPhone from locking down its
This is a workaround that Apple will likely patch sooner than later.
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