Apple is reportedly bringing a new security feature to its upcoming iOS 11.4 software update in the coming days. Called USB Restricted Mode, this feature will disable data transfer via the Lightning port seven days after the handset was last unlocked using Touch ID, Face ID, or password methods. The Lightning port, however, will work for charging the phone even after seven days without unlocking it. For disabling the connection, the iOS device will seemingly store the date and time when it was last unlocked.
The USB Restricted Mode feature, in iOS 11.4 Beta, was reportedly first seen in a iOS 11.3 Beta build but has known to have later been removed from the final build, says digital forensics firm ElcomSoft. “To improve security, for a locked iOS device to communicate with USB accessories you must connect an accessory via Lightning connector to the device while unlocked – or enter your device passcode while connected – at least once a week.” The feature will work on both iPhone and iPad variants on the latest version of iOS.
The report notes that iOS devices running iOS 11.3 and above will need to be unlocked at least once in seven days to ensure the Lightning port does not switch to charge only mode. If not unlocked, the device will not establish a data connection with the computer nor will it show the “Trust this computer?” prompt. This seems to be an update to prohibit thieves and other malicious users from accessing data on the device a long time after it was last unlocked.
Elcomsoft claims the USB Restricted Mode is aimed at law enforcement agencies that might look to procure sensitive information from iPhones and iPads. Apple has reportedly been wanting to release such a feature considering how certain firms have been involved with law enforcement to help extract user information from Apple’s devices. Apple is looking to take action against this with the new USB Restricted Mode.