iOS 12 Includes Setting to Disable USB Access When an iPhone Hasn't Been Unlocked for More Than an Hour

In iOS 12, there’s a new setting that will effectively put an end to law enforcement access to iPhones and iPads using USB devices like the GrayKey box, preventing USB accessories from connecting when it’s been more than an hour since the iPhone was last unlocked.

Located under Touch ID & Passcode, the new setting, which requires a passcode to be entered to allow a USB accessory to connect after an hour, is enabled by default.



You can toggle off the setting to allow USB accessories to connect at any time, but most users are likely going to leave this set to the default setting as there’s not a whole lot of benefit to turning it off. With this turned on, you’ll need to enter your passcode for a data connection to the iPhone using a USB device, such as when you connect it to iTunes on a computer, but charging via the Lightning port will continue to work fine.

The new setting is of interest because it’s an expansion of USB Restricted Mode, a feature Apple toyed with during the iOS 11.4 beta. USB Restricted Mode was designed to disable USB access to the Lightning Connector after 7 days, but iOS 12 cuts that time period way, way down.

Law enforcement officials use USB access to an iPhone or an iPad to connect accessories like the GrayKey box, a tool that plugs into the Lightning port of an iPhone and uses the data connection in an attempt to brute force a passcode.

With the new setting, an iPhone’s Lightning port data connection will not work with the GrayKey box if it’s been more than an hour since a passcode was entered, rendering it effectively useless unless used immediately after an iPhone is obtained from a suspect.

Law enforcement officials are likely going to be unhappy with the changes Apple is making in iOS 12 because it’s going to make iOS 12 devices a lot harder to get into, but from a customer point of view, this setting offers protection from hackers and other bad actors who may be able to get ahold of this kind of technology.

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