Apple confirmed this week that the new version of iOS, its operating system for iPhone and iPad, will close the loophole that has allowed law enforcement agencies to crack into Apple devices in the past.
Agencies targeting the devices of criminal suspects have used this loophole in the past, much to Apple’s chagrin, and in a move that has soured the already tense relationship between Apple and law enforcement.
While Apple has sought to improve customer privacy and security by creating devices that cannot be decrypted even by the company itself, the FBI and other groups have put pressure on them to allow for security backdoors that would allow them into the devices of suspects to gain information or proof of crimes.
The FBI in particular has gone so far as to take Apple to court to force them to create such a backdoor. However, this case was dropped when the FBI said they had found another way into the device in question.
With iOS 11.4, though, Apple seems to be blocking this route too. They will add an optional mode that disables the USB port for any sort of data transfer when the device has been locked for over an hour. This means that any third-party hoping to get access to the device would have to plug in hard-ware cracking technology within an hour of its last unlocking.
Apple told Techcrunch:
We’re constantly strengthening the security protections in every Apple product to help customers defend against hackers, identity thieves and intrusions into their personal data.
We have the greatest respect for law enforcement, and we don’t design our security improvements to frustrate their efforts to do their jobs.
While this might be the case, this is likely to further frustrate law enforcement agencies and continue to sour the relationship between these agencies and Apple.