IPhone USB Restricted Mode Is Pretty Easy to Beat

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The update includes a new feature called "USB Restricted Mode" that will disable a data connection from the iPhone's charging/data port at the bottom of the device after one hour of being locked by default. 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. In other words, we have found no obvious way to break USB Restricted Mode once it is already engaged. However, it turns out that there was an oversight in security, meaning that USB Restricted Mode can be bypassed by a simple accessory that Apple sells itself.

According to ElcomSoft's Oleg Afonin, connecting certain Lightning accessories will reset the one-hour countdown, allowing law enforcement to prevent the device from being locked down indefinitely.

It's worth noting that nobody has been able to hack USB Restricted Mode yet, once it's actually been an hour since you unlocked the phone. Any USB accessory that connects to an iPhone over the Lightning port works, including Apple's own Lighting to USB 3 Camera adapter which is available for $39.

iOS 12 may be the hottest iPhone operating system you can run right now, but that's still in beta. Once complete, you will be notified and will have the ability to set the device up as an entirely new device or restore it from a compatible iTunes or iCloud backup. The trick, then, is to attach a USB accessory to the port as soon as possible after stealing (or seizing) the iPhone, in order to stop it from locking down.

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A really interesting tidbit from the ElcomSoft report is that since iOS 11.4, Grayshift's boxes are already weakened significantly. While iOS 11.4.1 is likely the final update before iOS 12, this bug could force Apple to push out 11.4.2 quickly.

Essentially, after one hour of non-use, an iOS 11.4.1 handheld will not talk to any device plugged into its charging port - other than to receive power to charge its battery - until a valid passcode is entered via the screen.

CoolStar has announced that the Electra jailbreak works on iOS 11.4b3 and has advised all users on a higher firmware version to downgrade while they still can! We'll just have to wait and see. After all, if you're listening to music with your iPhone hooked up to a USB audio interface, you don't want the music to stop after an hour, and to re-authenticate before you can continue.

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