Apple may be tightening USB Restricted Mode in latest iOS 12 beta

A new report from AppleInsider suggests that Apple may be tightening its new USB Restricted Mode even more, following a report last week that security researchers had found a loophole that could be used to work around the new security feature. While we have been unable to reproduce this in our own testing, according to AppleInsider, the fourth beta of iOS 12 has now removed the one-hour window during which a USB data device can be connected to an iPhone, basically requiring users to unlock their iPhone each and every time a computer or other USB data accessory is connected. The restriction still doesn’t appear to apply to Apple USB chargers or audio accessories such as Apple’s own Lighting EarPods, although some non-Apple charging and audio devices may still be affected depending on how they communicate with the Lightning port.

Apple’s release notes on the subject remain unchanged from the first iOS 12 beta, which first introduced the tighter restriction but never made any specific mention of the time window, merely stating “iOS 12 beta may require you unlock your passcode-protected iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch in order to connect it to a Mac, PC, or USB accessory.” However, in our own testing, the USB Restricted Mode feature in the fourth beta of iOS 12 actually appears to be less restrictive than in prior versions, allowing an otherwise-restricted USB accessory to be reconnected as long as the iPhone has been simply been unlocked within the past hour; prior iOS 12 betas required that the iPhone had been unlocked with a USB accessory connected within the one-hour time window. Of course, since iOS 12 is still in beta, it’s fair to say that the feature is still in flux, and with no release notes it remains unclear what Apple’s final approach will be when iOS 12 is released in the fall.

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