Apple to Disable USB Connection on iPhones Left Locked for a Week or More

The FBI was unhappy with Apple for refusing to allow a backdoor for them to get into locked phones. After some third parties developed ways to get around the problem, Apple has sprung to action and will now disable the USB connection on devices left locked for a week or longer so that data will not be able to be exchanged.

The Initial Problem

It caused a big problem when two shooters left an iPhone behind in a mass shooting after killing fourteen people and before perishing themselves in a shootout with police. The FBI tried to get info from the iPhone but were locked out.

The FBI asked Apple to create a backdoor to be able to access the phone, but the tech company feared it would pose too many risks. Apple fought this in court, but eventually the FBI found its access anyway, and it’s thought that it was through a hacker.

Some companies then began implementing ways to unlock an iPhone, such as with the GrayKey device. It’s only marked for use by law enforcement, but there are other known services that are thought to offer the service to anyone. These devices are offered for thousands of dollars, so it’s clear someone’s making money off this.


Certainly this couldn’t have made Apple happy. They didn’t even want to create their own backdoor to their devices for fear of endangering the data of their loyal users, so it can be assumed that they weren’t too happy about others creating a way to hack into them.

Apple Fights Back

Apple seems to be fighting back against those who have developed a backdoor to their iPhones. They’ve found a way to do just what they were aiming to do with the iPhone lock to begin with, which is secure their users’ privacy.

Apple will now add a security feature to iOS that will disable data being sent over USB if the device has been locked for a period of seven days or longer. This just might destroy methods such as the GrayKey device from finding that backdoor.

USB Restricted Mode was noticed by researchers looking through iOS 11.4 code. When an iPhone is plugged into another device, such as to be charged on a computer, data is exchanged as the phone and computer figure out if they have authorization to exchange information. But sometimes the computer is trying to break into the phone.


Now that method will no longer work unless the phone is found and popped into a computer right away, After seven days of remaining unlocked, the phone will be locked and unable to send data to the computer for it to be recognized, meaning no data will be exchanged. Law enforcement will be locked out of iPhones once again.

But users will still remain able to get into their phones. Even if it’s been shut off for longer than a week, a user only needs to input their passcode, and they’re back in business.

As Security Was Meant to Be

What this feature does is restore what Apple wanted to begin with. They wanted to keep the devices secure so that users would feel safe. But with the GrayKey device and other services finding that backdoor, it made the devices much less secure.

With this feature that restores security to an iPhone, it surely means third parties are already at work trying to find yet another backdoor. But that’s how it needs to be. Apple will implement a new security feature, and third parties will just keep cracking it.

What do you think of Apple disabling the USB connection after seven days? Would this new iOS feature make you feel more secure with an iPhone? Chime in with your thoughts and concerns into the comments section below.

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.


  1. Why seven days? Why not 24, 36 or 48 hours? Since the user has an easy way of reactivating the phone, why not secure it sooner? Why give the hackers or the government the extra time to crack the iPhone?

    1. Truthfully, I pondered the same thing. At first I thought they were giving users a chance to use their phones, since not everyone uses their phone every day. But then like you suggested, if it just takes inputting your passcode to get your phone operational again, why not do it sooner? It’s almost like they’re daring the authorities: try to crack this phone, but you better do it quickly, as you only have a week to get it done.

  2. I agree with Dragonmouth. In fact, why not let the amount of time before lockout be at the user’s discretion?

Comments are closed.