Apple has already debuted iOS 12 for its iPhone and iPad devices ready to roll out later this year. This time, the company is putting the emphasis on user security. Chief among the new protection features is USB Restricted phone. However, before this ability even reaches users a workaround has been discovered.
USB Restricted mode rejects USB connections through the Lightning port if the iPhone has not been unlocked in the last hour. At its core, this means hackers, data thieves, or even prying authorities from unlocking a device by connecting it to a PC.
Just this week Apple talked up the ability of Restricted mode to protect people from law enforcement and thieves. However, the company wanted to clarify it is not trying to make life difficult for police forces:
“At Apple, we put the customer at the center of everything we design. 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. “We have the greatest respect for law enforcement, and we don't design our security improvements to frustrate their efforts to do their jobs.”
Obviously, when talking up a security feature it is best that it is not thwarted before it is even launched. Unfortunately for Apple, that exact scenario has happened with USB Restricted. Security research firm Grayshift says it has found a workaround to “Defeat this feature”.
In an email sent to Motherboard, Grayshift explains:
“Grayshift has gone to great lengths to future-proof their technology and stated that they have already defeated this security feature in the beta build. Additionally, the GrayKey has built in future capabilities that will begin to be leveraged as time goes on.”
Future of USB Restricted
While this is clearly not a good look for Apple, it is not necessarily the end of USB Restricted mode. Firstly, the company may tweak the feature to improve it. Moreover, the company is clear that the ability is mostly designed to thwart petty thieves.
In other words, USB Restricted mode will protect your device from pickpockets. However, anyone with access to Grayshift's tools should be able to workaround the feature.