Apple tightens iPhone security loophole to prevent police hacking

Image    Apple began working on the USB issue before learning it was popularly used by police

Image Apple began working on the USB issue before learning it was popularly used by police

The setting change could also draw criticism from US law enforcement officials who have been engaged in an on-again, off-again campaign for legislation or other ways to force technology companies to maintain access to users' communications.

Apple said Wednesday it was strengthening encryption on its iPhones to thwart police efforts to unlock handsets without legitimate authorization.

To break into the devices, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and local police have resorted to employing third-parties.

Apple began working on the USB issue before learning it was a favourite of law enforcement.

The company plans to upgrade its products' security with a software update that disables the device's charging and data port one hour after it's locked.

The tech company said the change is aimed at blocking hackers, not at hindering law enforcement agencies from doing their jobs, Reuters reported. Given that the devices cost between $15,000 and $30,000, that could work out much more costly for law enforcement. "There's not really any reason to think only law enforcement will ever have those devices". Heralded with pushing the envelope and popularising many technologies that were once considered unfeasible, the company is also known for its sluggishness in making certain industry standards available to its users. Apple pointed out Wednesday that it has responded to thousands of requests from United States law enforcement for access to customer data - more than 14,000 in 2017.

The practice has spread in recent years, with law enforcement agencies around the world buying devices that can pull information off a locked phone.

Federal Bureau of Investigation officials in particular have complained about what they call the "Going Dark Problem" as encryption becomes increasingly widespread and strong across a range of consumer devices and services.

For months, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been criticized for misrepresenting its ability to crack encrypted devices.

The Washington Post reported in May that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had misstated the number of all mobile devices that it could not access due to encryption by the thousands.