iOS 11 has another feature to stave off snooping cops

iOS 11 has another feature to stave off snooping cops


iOS passcode

Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Apple has made a couple of changes in iOS 11 that make it more difficult for cops to get into your iPhone. We discovered one of those last month, and now another has been uncovered by security software developer ElcomSoft.

It makes it even more difficult for law enforcement to obtain the data on your iPhone, even if they have your fingerprint.

In some jurisdictions, cops can force you to unlock your iPhone using your fingerprint, but they cannot force you to hand over your passcode. With privacy in mind, Apple has taken steps to make your data even more secure in iOS 11.

Firstly, it has implemented a feature that makes it easy to temporarily disable Touch ID so that your device cannot be unlocked without a passcode. ElcomSoft has discovered a second safeguard that makes it harder to sync the data on your device to a Mac or PC.

Earlier versions of iOS already require your device to be unlocked to establish a connection with a computer — but until now, you could perform that unlock with your fingerprint. In iOS 11, you will need to enter your passcode to sync with a computer, no matter what.

That means that even if you’re forced to unlock your device with Touch ID, and you forgot to temporarily disable it, law enforcement agencies cannot create a backup of your data.

“Establishing a trust relationship between an iOS device and the PC is required in order to perform logical acquisition,” ElcomSoft explains. “Without pairing the device to the PC, experts will be unable to make a local backup of the device.”

“The new pairing procedure requires the use of device passcode in order to establish trust between the device and the computer, thus making logical acquisition possible only if you know the passcode.”

Privacy has always been incredibly important for Apple, which is why the company protects all your sensitive data with end-to-end encryption and takes steps like these in iOS 11 to prevent unauthorized access to your devices.


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