Apple Enables USB Restricted Mode by Default in iOS 11.4.1

Credit    Apple

If you go to Settings and check under Face ID & Passcode, you'll see a new toggle for USB Accessories.

The accompanying explanation gives no indication of its real goal: "Unlock iPhone to allow USB accessories to connect when it has been more than hour since your iPhone was locked", it says underneath a sliding bar.

In addition to the expected fixes and improvements, iOS 11.4.1 brings over a feature that's called USB Restricted Mode, whose objective is to prevent those iPhone hacking machines that law enforcement is using to bypass the screen lock from hacking iOS devices.

As a concession to user convenience, the restrictions on the Lightning port only comes into effect if the Lightning port is not now being used, and the device has not been unlocked for more than a hour.

This chink in the USB Restricted Mode's armor can probably be closed, but it might prove annoying to users. All you need is to plug a USB accessory (even if it hasn't been paired with the iPhone before) into the Lightning port to bypass this security feature. Notable in the new build is USB Restrictive Mode.

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It has been seen that the lock doesn't get affected with Apple Lightning to 3.5mm jack adapter, though the one-hour countdown was reset through the official Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter.

Elcomsoft engineer Oleg Afonin noted that testing showed that once USB Restricted Mode kicks in, there is no obvious way to break it.

With the release of iOS 11.4.1, the procedure for properly seizing and transporting iPhone devices may be altered to include a compatible Lightning accessory.

Security researchers at ElcomSoft discovered the security hole, which can be found in iOS 11.4.1.

While Apple might fix the flaw in the next iOS 11.4 release or in the iOS 12, Afonin doesn't consider it as a severe vulnerability and calls it an "oversight". Law enforcement and private companies could leverage the loophole and design new hardware to continue to crack passcodes through the Lightning port.

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