Security Market Segment LS
Tuesday, 05 June 2018 08:21

New iOS feature will hinder third-party passcode crackers

By

A new feature in iOS 11.4.1 beta will disable the Lightning port after an hour of the device in question being unlocked, as claimed by a researcher last month, with the only difference being how long it would take for this to happen. Version 11.4 was announced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in California on Monday.

Oleg Afonin of the desktop and mobile forensic tools maker Elcomsoft wrote that though the feature had not surfaced in the 11.4 final build, it had appeared in the 11.4.1 beta.

He said USB Restricted Mode had been described as follows in the 11.3 beta: "To improve security, for a locked iOS device to communicate with USB accessories you must connect an accessory via lightning connector to the device while unlocked — or enter your device passcode while connected — at least once a week.”

Focus on the iPhone's security has grown after the FBI had a stoush with Apple in 2016 over gaining access to an iPhone used by a terrorist to kill people in San Bernardino, California.

The agency subsequently gained access to the devices through the services of a private firm known as Cellebrite. More recently, another company, GrayShift, has been reported to be selling devices to unlock the latest iPhones.

allow access

This feature seemed to be aimed at tools such as those made by Cellebrite and GrayShift that could crack passcodes, Afonin said.

He pointed out that among the options in the "allow access when locked" dialog, Afonin provided a screenshot (above) that showed one titled "USB Accessories".

iphone screen"Once the user toggles the 'USB Accessories' switch, the iPhone will require you to 'Unlock iPhone to use accessories' to connect (seen on the left) when it has been more than an hour since your iPhone was locked," he wrote.

The FBI has repeatedly claimed that it could not gain access to 7800 devices in 2017 to pursue investigations. That claim was found to be overblown.

Afonin said it was clear this was the “proper” USB Restricted Mode because, unlike before, there was zero data communicated over the USB port once the feature kicked in.

"iTunes does not see the device at all; no 'unlock this device to access' and no pairing request. The iPhone just charges off the computer’s USB port, transmitting no information.

"We have not been able to access even the basic information about the device using the Elcomsoft iOS Forensic Toolkit I(nfo) command, the very same command that returns identification information about an iOS device even if it has never been paired with the computer."

However, Afonin noted that there may be a possible workaround. "As was the case in iOS 11.3 beta, the clock starts ticking after the device is locked or after the device is disconnected from a trusted (paired) computer or USB accessory (we were able to positively verify the latter by running a simple test).

"In order to keep the USB port unlocked, the police would have to connect the iPhone to a trusted device during the first one hour, and keep it connected at all times before they have a chance to attempt acquisition."

Screenshots: courtesy Elcomsoft

CHIEF DATA & ANALYTICS OFFICER BRISBANE 2020

26-27 February 2020 | Hilton Brisbane

Connecting the region’s leading data analytics professionals to drive and inspire your future strategy

Leading the data analytics division has never been easy, but now the challenge is on to remain ahead of the competition and reap the massive rewards as a strategic executive.

Do you want to leverage data governance as an enabler?Are you working at driving AI/ML implementation?

Want to stay abreast of data privacy and AI ethics requirements? Are you working hard to push predictive analytics to the limits?

With so much to keep on top of in such a rapidly changing technology space, collaboration is key to success. You don't need to struggle alone, network and share your struggles as well as your tips for success at CDAO Brisbane.

Discover how your peers have tackled the very same issues you face daily. Network with over 140 of your peers and hear from the leading professionals in your industry. Leverage this community of data and analytics enthusiasts to advance your strategy to the next level.

Download the Agenda to find out more

DOWNLOAD NOW!

Sam Varghese

website statistics

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

VENDOR NEWS & EVENTS

REVIEWS

Recent Comments