Apple closing iPhone security gap used by law enforcement - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Apple closing iPhone security gap used by law enforcement

By MICHAEL LIEDTKE
AP Technology Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Apple is closing a security gap that allowed outsiders to pry personal information from locked iPhones without a password, a change that will thwart law enforcement agencies that have been exploiting the vulnerability to collect evidence in criminal investigations.

The loophole will be shut down in a forthcoming update to Apple's iOS software, which powers iPhones.

Once fixed, iPhones will no longer be vulnerable to intrusion via the Lightning port used both to transfer data and to charge iPhones. The port will still function after the update, but will shut off data an hour after a phone is locked if the correct password isn't entered.

The current flaw has provided a point of entry for authorities across the U.S. since the FBI paid an unidentified third party in 2016 to unlock an iPhone used by a killer in the San Bernardino, California, mass shooting a few months earlier. The FBI sought outside help after Apple rebuffed the agency's efforts to make the company create a security backdoor into iPhone technology.

Apple's refusal to cooperate with the FBI at the time became a political hot potato pitting the rights of its customers against the broader interests of public safety. While waging his successful 2016 campaign, President Donald Trump ripped Apple for denying FBI access to the San Bernardino killer's locked iPhone.

In a Wednesday statement, Apple framed its decision to tighten iPhone security even further as part of its crusade to protect the highly personal information that its customers store on their phones.

CEO Tim Cook has hailed privacy as a "fundamental" right of people and skewered both Facebook and one of Apple's biggest rivals, Google, for vacuuming up vast amounts of personal information about users of their free services to sell advertising based on their interests. During Apple's 2016 battle with the FBI, he called the FBI's effort to make the company alter its software a "dangerous precedent" in an open letter .

"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," Apple said. "We have the greatest respect for law enforcement, and we don't design our security improvements to frustrate their efforts to do their jobs."

it was first reported by various new outlets, including Reuters and The New York Times.

It's unclear what took Apple so long to close an iPhone entryway that had become well-known among legal authorities and, presumably, criminals as well.

It got to that point that two different firms, Israel-based Cellebrite and U.S. startup Grayshift, began to sell their services to law enforcement agencies trying to hack into locked iPhones, according to media reports. Grayshift, founded by a former Apple engineer, even markets a $15,000 device designed to help police to exploit the security hole in the iPhone's current software.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • NationalMore>>

  • AP Explains: US has split up families throughout its history

    AP Explains: US has split up families throughout its history

    Wednesday, June 20 2018 1:41 AM EDT2018-06-20 05:41:08 GMT
    Wednesday, June 20 2018 1:44 AM EDT2018-06-20 05:44:15 GMT
    (AP Photo/File). FILE - In this March 30, 1942 file photo, Cpl. George Bushy, left, a member of the military guard which supervised the departure of 237 Japanese people for California, holds the youngest child of Shigeho Kitamoto, center, as she and he...(AP Photo/File). FILE - In this March 30, 1942 file photo, Cpl. George Bushy, left, a member of the military guard which supervised the departure of 237 Japanese people for California, holds the youngest child of Shigeho Kitamoto, center, as she and he...
    AP Explains: US has split up families and detained children throughout its history.More >>
    AP Explains: US has split up families and detained children throughout its history.More >>
  • 'Papa! Papa!' Audio of children stokes rage over separation

    'Papa! Papa!' Audio of children stokes rage over separation

    Tuesday, June 19 2018 1:20 AM EDT2018-06-19 05:20:32 GMT
    Wednesday, June 20 2018 1:44 AM EDT2018-06-20 05:44:01 GMT
    (U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP). In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a U.S. Border Patrol agent watches as people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the...(U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP). In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a U.S. Border Patrol agent watches as people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the...
    An audio recording that appears to capture the heartbreaking cries of small Spanish-speaking children being processed by U.S. officials stoked the uproar over the policy of separating immigrant children from their...More >>
    An audio recording that appears to capture the heartbreaking cries of small Spanish-speaking children being processed by U.S. officials stoked the uproar over the policy of separating immigrant children from their parents.More >>
  • 'Say bye to him': Detainee recounts agents taking her son

    'Say bye to him': Detainee recounts agents taking her son

    Tuesday, June 19 2018 1:31 PM EDT2018-06-19 17:31:01 GMT
    Wednesday, June 20 2018 1:43 AM EDT2018-06-20 05:43:07 GMT
    (Blanca Orantes-Lopez via AP). In this self portrait taken in Mexico in May 2018, Blanca Orantes-Lopez poses for a photo with her 8-year-old son, Abel Alexander, during the monthlong journey from their hometown of Puerto La Libertad, El Salvador, to th...(Blanca Orantes-Lopez via AP). In this self portrait taken in Mexico in May 2018, Blanca Orantes-Lopez poses for a photo with her 8-year-old son, Abel Alexander, during the monthlong journey from their hometown of Puerto La Libertad, El Salvador, to th...
    'Don't leave me, Mom': Woman from El Salvador describes separation from 8-year-old son after crossing border.More >>
    'Don't leave me, Mom': Woman from El Salvador describes separation from 8-year-old son after crossing border.More >>
Powered by Frankly