Apple Takes Steps to Block Devices That Can Crack Your iPhone's Passcode

Image    Apple began working on the USB issue before learning it was popularly used by police

Apple says it is to change the default settings of its iPhone to stop hackers and others unlocking devices without proper legal authorisation. The two have battled over Apple's encryption on its devices, which makes it hard for law enforcement agencies to break into and get data from phones they procure.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) said on Wednesday it will change its iPhone settings to undercut the most popular means for law enforcement to break into the devices.

The setting change could also draw criticism from USA 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. In a case that made plenty of headlines in 2016, it refused to help the Federal Bureau of Investigation get into a phone that mass shooter Syed Rizwan used before he and his wife killed 14 people and wounded 22 others in San Bernardino, California.

The patch prevents an iPhone's USB port from being used for anything but charging an hour after the device has been locked, blocking access to data, Apple said in a statement. Instead, the Federal Bureau of Investigation purchased a tool from a third-party that let it hack into the device. The lightning connector is believed to be able to take advantage of high power delivery, but the transfer rate of the data cables bundled with iPhones is said to be around that of the USB 2.0 standard at a mere 480 Mbps. Now they will be unable to run code on the devices after the hour is up.

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The company has been a prominent opponent of USA legislation to force technology companies to maintain access to users' communications.

Apple was among the leaders of this movement, portraying its devices as more secure than those of rivals and its business model - which relied on pricey products, not profiting off the personal data of its users - as more attuned to the privacy expectations of its customers.

Having a device in the market that offers criminals - and law enforcement - the ability to get into any iPhone, no matter what the iOS version, for as low as $100 turned into a nightmare for Apple.

If a law enforcement agency wants to gain access to an iPhone, its options are limited, even with a warrant.

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