Apple plans to equip iOS 12 with USB Restricted Mode, a feature that requires users to unlock their iPhone with their passcode before USB accessories can connect if the phone last was unlocked more than an hour earlier. The company included this feature in the developer versions of iOS 11.4.1 and iOS 12. Apple will release USB Restricted Mode publicly in a future software update. USB Restricted Mode should work on iPads the same way as on iPhones because it’s a software feature. There’s a widespread belief that USB Restricted Mode targets law enforcement agencies, which use passcode cracking tools to get around iPhone security.
Police departments around the country reportedly have been purchasing those solutions. The United States Drug Enforcement Agency earlier this year issued a solicitation for GrayShift’s GrayKey. The DEA had subscribed to Cellebrite’s solution in 2016. USB Restricted Mode will render these technologies useless. U.S. law enforcement agencies have demanded a backdoor in high-tech products, and the FBI has been trying to crack Apple’s security for years. Their side took a hit last month, when The Washington Post reported that the FBI repeatedly had overstated the dangers of encryption, both to the public and to Congress.