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Apple thwarts Grayshift company's iPhone passcode hack with new update

Posted at 3:02 PM, Nov 07, 2018

Police and other law enforcement are constantly trying to stay ahead of criminals, but sometimes technology can get in the way.

Apple made headlines a couple years back, when the company refused to unlock a phone when asked by law enforcement.

Then came Grayshift, a company that specializes in cracking iPhones.  

"Apple's fighting these guys pretty hard,” says digital security expert Steve Beaty. “Has been a bit of a chess game right."

Beaty is a digital security expert professor with Metropolitan State University of Denver.

"It appears that people aren't now able to break into the iPhone with the most recent release of version 12 of iOS," Beaty explains.

While Apple isn't saying much about what they've done, law enforcement around the country will have to scramble to find new ways to get into these devices.

Beaty seems to think it's related to a small change in access by adding a USB restrict mode--that disables devices after a certain amount of time if it’s plugged into your phone.

"They can plug into iPhones, that historically in general, have what we call brute force them," Beaty explains.

Brute forcing allows Grayshift to continue putting in passcodes until they find the right one. But because these external devices deactivate after about an hour, their process is interrupted. That's the main belief in how Apple is thwarting these devices.

If you're worried about security, it's simple to activate USB restrict mode on your phone. There may be some other problems though you could run into charging issue.

"So, for the time being, I don't see it being more than a chess game that they are going to be advances made on either side,” says Beaty. “And I don't think there's going to be a definitive, if you will, checkmate in the foreseeable future."