Monday, 18 June, 2018

Apple to close iPhone security loophole used by police

Are we nearing the end of the Lightning era Are we nearing the end of the Lightning era
Terence Owen | 14 June, 2018, 16:20

Apple is about to make it much harder for law enforcement agencies to gain access to information on iPhones. Despite suggestions that it could compel Apple to hand over the source code to iOS the bureau ended up using the services of a third party to unlock the smartphone.

Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote an open letter explaining the company's refusal to provide a security "backdoor" for law enforcement.

The first beta of iOS 12 can be set to partially deactivate the Lightning port after an iPhone hasn't been used for an hour. The company is closing off an unintended security hole in iOS that law enforcement has been using to hack into iPhones.

Why it matters: Apple has a history of fighting law-enforcement efforts to force it to help unlock people's iPhones-even if it might help snag a suspect. Undoubtedly, researchers and police vendors will find new ways to break into phones, and Apple will then look to patch those vulnerabilities. A Grayshift device sitting on a desk at a police station, he said, "could very easily leak out into the world". "We're constantly strengthening the security protections in every Apple product to help customers defend against hackers, identity thieves and intrusions into their personal data".

Apple and Google, which make the software in almost all of the world's smartphones, began encrypting their mobile software in 2014. Further data access would require the user's passcode.

The conflict hit its public apex in 2014 after the Federal Bureau of Investigation took Apple to court in an effort to compel it to break into the phone of a gunman who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif. But the company has been a target of some in law enforcement for rejecting efforts to allow easy access to iPhones.

FG Declares Friday, Monday Public Holidays To Mark Eid-El-Fitr
The lunar month of Shawwal will begin with Eid al-Fitr (Eid ul-Fitr), also known as the festival of breaking the fast. In Ramzan, the 9th month of Islamic calendar, Muslims observe fast and abstain from food and water from dawn to dusk.

The two sides fought in court for a month.

The FBI has never named the security firm or group of hackers who did the work. It's entirely plausible that Apple would switch that end from USB-A over to USB-C while leaving the Lightning port on the other end intact in order to continue reaping the benefits in accessory licensing. Companies including Cellebrite and Grayshift sell the devices, which plug into the Lightning port.

Grayshift, founded by a former Apple engineer, markets a $15,000 (£11,000) device created to help police exploit the security hole in the iPhone's current software.

Apple has closed loopholes in the past.

On Wednesday, Apple told PCMag the change to the Lightning port wasn't meant to thwart the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The FBI didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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