Some tech news now for thieves and the police. Apple’s new iOS 11 operating system makes it harder to access an iPhone. The police are getting a hard task when it comes to downloading the contents of seized iPhones. Later this Tuesday, Apple presents the latest version of iOS.
In iOS 11, there is the so-called SOS mode. A user can press an iPhone’s home button five times, which eliminates the touch-id capability. A phone can only call 112 or show the owner’s medical base information. To open the phone, a user has to enter the six-digit access code. The phone also goes in SOS mode when it’s completely disabled. Thieves or the police can’t unlock the iPhone if the code is unknown.
This is especially an issue in the United States because Apple was involved in procedures with the government because the company does not want to provide back doors, for example, to the FBI to open locked phones. That case is still ongoing. The reason was Apple’s refusal to open the phone of a jihadist resident of San Bernardino, and murder, Syed Rizwan Farook.
For foreigners who enter the United States, these issues can be important. Because the authorities at the border have since 9/11 the opportunity to search computers or phones without the legal permission. Additionally, an iPhone user can not always be forced to give his password, but he can be forced to put his finger on the home button and unlock his phone that way.
An officer can now connect an unlocked iPhone to a computer, after which software (usually Elcomsoft or Cellebrite) copies the contents of the phone. After that, the owner gets sent away but his entire phone can be analyzed.
Apple finally seems to be done with these methods used by law enforcement. This became clear because of a message that was place on the site of the Russian company Elcomsoft.
In iOS 11, the officer is asked to enter the six-digit pass code after connecting, touch id will not work at this point. The official may, if the phone is unlocked, still manually check the phone, but making a copy of the phone can no longer be done (if the access code is unknown). This means that (for example) deleted messages or deleted phone logs can no longer be read. Search engine SQLite can not be used on the phone either. Phones that are full are not easy to read this way.
Security expert Nicholas Weaver, of the University of California in Berkeley said this to Wired:
“Apple wants to live in a world where your phone in your hand is extremely valuable and in the hands of someone else it becomes a brick. If that makes forensic data dumping by law enforcement and border control a bit more difficult, so what. The advantages are greater than the disadvantages.”
Incidentally, it’s likely that the new Iphone 8 will have facial recognition. This feature is most likely also turned off when the phone goes in SOS mode.