Now, in a statement to Reuters, Apple has acknowledged these efforts and says they come in an effort to protect its customers... Even some of the methods most prized by intelligence agencies have been leaked on the internet.
"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.
However, there is no clarity regarding whether USB-C will be used on both ends of the iPhone cable, or just the one that goes into the charging adapter.
While the feature is now optional and can be turned on or off via Settings in iOS 11.4, it will be made permanent in an upcoming release of iOS 12, which will likely make the feature near-ubiquitous in the coming months. It also chose to simply alter the setting, a cruder way of preventing most of the potential access by unfriendly parties.
Earlier versions of the USB restrictions had a time limit of one week rather than one hour, according to Motherboard, and the new limit could make life significantly harder for police departments. In practical terms, that could cut access by as much as 90 percent, security researchers estimate. If they want to unlock suspect devices, they'll need to plug them into a GrayKey within an hour of seizing them, which could mean deploying the GrayKey devices far more proactively with first responders, rather than keeping them in a lab.
These companies have marketed their machines to law enforcement in multiple countries this year, offering the machines themselves for thousands of dollars but also per-phone pricing as low as $50.