June 18, 2018

Apple: iPhones will now be even harder for law enforcement to crack

14 June 2018, 04:20 | Marlene Myers

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Apple has insisted that the new security measure is primarily aimed at protecting users in despotic countries, not at making law enforcement's job more hard. Initially, a beta version for iOS 11.3 disabled the access to a week after an iPhone had been locked.

The company's chief executive, Tim Cook, has hailed privacy as a "fundamental" right and skewered both Facebook and one of Apple's biggest rivals, Google, for vacuuming vast amounts of personal information about users of their free services to sell advertising based on their interests. "We have the greatest respect for law enforcement, and we don't design our security improvements to frustrate their efforts to do their jobs", the company said in a statement.

The move by Apple, the latest in an ongoing clash with law enforcement, comes amid reports of growing use of a tool known as GrayKey which can enable police to bypass iPhone security features.

The setting change could also draw criticism from US law enforcement officials who have been engaged in an on-again, off-again campaign for legislation or other ways to force technology companies to maintain access to users' communications.

The friction came into public view after the Federal Bureau of Investigation could not access the iPhone of a shooter who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, in late 2015.

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Before we go on, this is a rumour from the supply chain which suggests this drastic change in port type should happen on the new iPhone, in 2019.

Currently, law enforcement and others can plug specialized tools made by cybersecurity experts into the phone's Lightning port to access data.

Law enforcement agencies that have purchased a GrayKey device include the Drug Enforcement Administration, which bought an advanced model earlier this year for $30,000, according to public records.

It's unclear what took Apple so long to close an iPhone entryway that had become well-known among legal authorities and, presumably, criminals as well. Now they will be unable to run code on the devices after the hour is up.

On Wednesday, Apple told PCMag the change to the Lightning port wasn't meant to thwart the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Grayshift did not respond to requests for comment.

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