Cybersecurity expert explains Apple’s new USB restricted mode for locked iPhones

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah(News4Utah) Last week, Apple announced they were going to close a backdoor that law enforcement had been using to access locked iphones. Robert Jorgensen, a Cybersecurity Professor at Utah Valley University to explain why it’s so significant.

Two digital forensics companies named Grayshift and Cellebrite sold packages of hardware and software to law enforcement that allowed them to crack the passcodes through the phone’s lightning connector while connected to USB. 

This was used in a high profile case not very long ago. The iPhone from one of the San Bernardino shooters was in the middle of the debate and lawsuits between FBI and Apple. The information was finally extracted using one of these tools after Apple refused to cooperate on the grounds of privacy. 

In an upcoming update, Apple will be introducing a USB restricted mode that will disable the functionality one hour after the phone is locked. This means that these tools should be prevented from working.

This is a very lucrative product for these companies, costing about $15,000. Early reports say that they already have ways to bypass this protection, but Jorgensen says we will have to wait and see.

Directly, it may influence some people to choose or avoid Apple. Jorgensen believes it will continue the debate between security and privacy, along with balancing the need for privacy with the ability of law enforcement, to investigate crimes. 

For more information on Cybersecurity or Utah Valley University, visit UVU.edu/Cybersecurity.

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