Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Industry | By Johnnie Johnson

Apple's own Lightning to USB 3 camera adaptor breaks USB Restricted Mode

Apple's own Lightning to USB 3 camera adaptor breaks USB Restricted Mode

This seems like a ideal solution, but security researchers from ElcomSoft have pointed out a significant shortcoming. The feature is created to lock an iPhone's or iPad's Lightning port after one hour of device inactivity, preventing the port from being used for anything except basic charging until a password is entered again.

"What we want to see is more granular control over what can and what cannot trigger the USB Restricted Mode".

However, USB Restricted Mode is not foolproof.

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You will now need to enter your passcode/pincode, then scroll down until you reach USB Accessories. Apple has added protections against the USB devices being used by law enforcement and private companies that connect over Lightning to crack an iPhone's passcode and evade Apple's usual encryption safeguards.

However, if the device is connected to a Lightning accessory - including one that has never been connected before - the one-hour countdown timer to initiate USB Restricted Mode will be reset.

"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". Does downloading and installing the next version of the mobile operating system, iOS 11.4.1, fix it? This can be done by plugging any USB accessory into the iPhone's Lightning port.

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With a power-transferring accessory, police - or other hackers - have a fairly straightforward means of accessing a seized iOS 11.4.1 device.

A growing number of iPhone and iPad owners have voiced their complaints on the official Apple support forums regarding a battery drain issue due to iOS 11.4. The only way for Apple to now fix this flaw would be to require authentication of all iPhone accessories, but this likely won't happen anytime soon.

The iOS 11.4.1 upgrade is small by Apple standards - coming in at around 200MB - but it represents a big headache for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other organizations that want to gain access to someone else's phone because it kills off the most common route to bypassing the device's security. With nothing more than a Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter - available to buy direct from Apple - you can prevent USB Restricted Mode from kicking in.

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