How Apple’s iOS 12 will quietly boost your iPhone’s security

When Apple publicly releases iOS 12 this autumn, there’ll be a host of new security boosting features that are sure to frustrate police and Facebook.

As Apple revealed its new operating system for iPhones and iPads at the start of June, there was little fanfare. When iOS 12 is released publicly this autumn there will be a big focus on performance and stability: apps will run faster, batteries will last for longer.

But since the initial announcement around iOS 12, developers have been digging down into its features and several are focusing on simplifying user security and privacy. As well as making swipes at Facebook and Google’s data-driven advertising models, Apple has also been pushing to make it harder for police and law enforcement agencies to improperly access the information stored on iPhones.

Tim Cook’s firm is evidently trying to distance itself from its other big rivals. While some of the new additions to iOS 12 unique to Apple, other security features are copying what’s been available on Android devices for some time. Here’s a rundown of the things Apple has revealed since the public demo of iOS 12.

Stopping police from hacking

Apple has history with law enforcement: in 2016 it publicly clashed with the FBI after it was accused of not helping to unlock a terrorist’s encrypted iPhone. Critics argued it was getting in the way of justice; Apple said creating a way into the phone would mean weakening the security of every iPhone. At some cost, the FBI eventually paid another company to force its way into the handset.

Since then, tech has emerged that claims to be able to get into any iPhone. Police in the US have been quick to snap-up the GrayKey to open any iPhone from Israeli firm Cellebrite. In response, Apple slyly included a new locking provision in iOS 12.

The operating system will cut off data transfers through a USB port when the phone hasn’t been unlocked in an hour. It essentially makes it much harder for the GrayKey to unlock a phone. The USB Restricted Mode has been tested in the previous version of iOS but the time limit was one week. The addition means that unless law enforcement bodies unlock a phone within an hour of a crime, it could have trouble getting into it at all.

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