Apple recently released an updated version of iOS, 11.4.1. They did so quietly, and without much fanfare, but the update includes one very powerful and exciting security update that’s deserving of special attention.
Specifically, the new version of iOS introduces what the company is calling “Restricted Mode.”
It was created to protect iPhones against USB devices used by law enforcement to crack your password and get around the encryption used to keep your data secure.
The new feature disables USB access after the phone has been locked for an hour instead of a week, which was the previously used convention.
To access the new, more secure mode, open your Settings app and look under the section labeled “Touch ID” (note: If you have an iPhone X, this will be labeled “Face ID.”) Here, you’ll find a new toggle switch for USB Accessories.
The default mode is to disable USB Accessories, so if you want them enabled, you’ll need to go into this section of Settings to manually turn it on.
This new feature, combined with the toggle switch that automatically erases all data on the phone after ten failed login attempts should serve as a powerful one-two punch that will make iPhones dramatically more secure.
Law enforcement officials have not weighed in on the recent change. This new feature coupled with the recent Supreme Court ruling that requires law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant prior to attempting to pull data from a smartphone. It is probably not going to sit well. Even so, the change has already won high marks from privacy advocates around the world.
Given how little privacy there is left online, this has to be seen as a positive development, even if it complicates some law enforcement efforts. Kudos to Apple for the enhancement.