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Apple to close iPhone security loophole used by law enforcement

17 June, 2018, 05:06 | Author: Tara Roberts
  • Next year's iPhones might ditch the Lightning connector

The feature as implemented in iOS 12 still allows the Lightning port to charge the iPhone, so very few people will notice a difference.

As we highlighted last week, the new USB Restricted Mode requires that an iPhone be unlocked with a passcode when connected to a computer via USB if the device has not already been unlocked in the last hour.

"At Apple, we put the customer at the center of everything we design", Apple said in a statement to this news organization.

U.S. Magistrate James Orenstein issued the ruling in a NY court, saying the government's order places an "unreasonable burden" on the iPhone maker.

Apple has been at the forefront of a battle between tech companies and law enforcement to hand over data in extreme cases.

"We are continuously strengthening protection in every Apple product to help customers protect themselves from hackers, identity thieves and intrusions into personal data".

Apple spokesman Fred Sainz explained to the New York Times that it is fixing the security vulnerability because of worries that it could be exploited by criminals illegally, as well as law enforcement officials with a warrant.

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The current flaw has provided a point of entry for authorities across the United States since the Federal Bureau of Investigation paid an unidentified third party in 2016 to unlock an iPhone used by a mass killer in the San Bernardino shooting a few months earlier.

Since then, two main companies have helped law enforcement hack into iPhones: Cellebrite, an Israeli forensics firm purchased by Japan's Sun Corp.in 2006, and Grayshift, which was founded by a former Apple engineer in 2016.

The FBI later obtained a hacking tool that allowed the agency to access the contents of the terrorist's iPhone. Apple said it was working a fix to mitigate the possibility of accessing data from GrayKey or similar tools.

Apple has not been immune to the demands made by law enforcement agencies, with a high profile example involving an iPhone belonging to the San Bernardino shooter and the FBI's interest in gaining access to data on the device.

The FBI didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Michael Sachs, an assistant district attorney in Manhattan, said his office uses workarounds-he declined to specify which-to access locked iPhones several times a week. He said the phones had yielded crucial information, and he was upset that Apple planned to close such a useful investigative avenue.

Apple refused to comply and CEO Tim Cook also wrote a long letter on the same, addressing why this was an issue of privacy where the company would not compromise. And while the frustration is understandable, the fact is plenty of data and communications are stored in the cloud, untouched by device encryption.

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