FEATURED:

Apple to close iPhone security loophole used by law enforcement

Apple to close iPhone security loophole used by law enforcement
© Getty Images

Apple said Wednesday that it's closing a security loophole that many law enforcement agencies use to break into phones and other devices.

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. While phones can still charge in that window, a phone's owner must log in with their password, fingerprint or a face scan to transfer data.

ADVERTISEMENT

Law enforcement had previously been able to break into and obtain data from phones by connecting them to devices running special software, bypassing the phone’s security features. After an hour, law enforcement won’t be able to use such devices.

Apple said its changes were made with criminals in mind who can exploit the same vulnerabilities as law enforcement to break into stolen phones.

“We have the greatest respect for law enforcement, and we don’t design our security improvements to frustrate their efforts to do their jobs,” an Apple spokesperson said over email.

The company stressed that it made the changes with its consumers in mind first.

The new changes could stoke another round of debate between Apple and law enforcement. The two have battled over Apple’s encryption on its devices, which makes it difficult for law enforcement agencies to break into and get data from phones they procure.

The conflict hit its public apex in 2014 after the FBI took Apple to court in an effort to compel it to break into the phone of a gunman who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif.

Apple CEO Tim Cook defended the company’s decision saying, among other arguments, that weakening encryption gives criminals and other malicious actors an easier way to break into phones.