The latest iOS 12 developer beta requires the iPhone to be unlocked before allowing a connection to any USB device, potentially further safeguarding Apple users against snooping from law enforcement.
The fourth developer beta, released this week, now requires iPhone and iPad users to enter their passcode whenever they plug their device into computer or any USB accessory that seeks to pair up with the phone or tablet.
If this feature makes it into the final version of iOS 12, it’ll step up Apple’s efforts to keep iPhone users’ data out of the hands of unauthorised users (via Apple Insider).
In the recently released iOS 11.4.1 update pushed to consumers, Apple added the USB Restricted mode, which stops anyone transferring data via USB when a phone had been locked for an hour or mode. Once installed, the settings could be toggled within the USB Accessories section of the Face ID (or Touch ID) and Passcode menu.
If they don’t choose to have the setting enabled continually, users can turn it on manually by quickly hitting the power/wake button five times in order to access the Emergency SOS mode. This will enable USB Restricted Mode and disable Face/Touch ID.
The idea here is, if you think you might be about to get pinched by the cops, or think you might have your phone stolen, you can quickly pre-empt snooping.
The new USB Restricted Mode comes a month after Apple promised to plug a loophole that enables investigators to transfer data from an iPhone’s lightning port without authorisation. Police in the US had been using the GreyKey device to circumnavigate Apple’s built-in protections for consumers’ iPhones.
Before the update Apple said: “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. We have the greatest respect for law enforcement, and we don’t design our security improvements to frustrate their efforts to do their jobs.”
Of course, there’s a chance Apple could just revert to the iOS 11.4.1 method, rather than push it further. The final version of iOS 12 will likely be out in September, so this is definitely one to keep any eye on.
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