A Forbes report says Apple has effectively disabled the GrayKey iPhone unlocking device’s ability to crack the passcodes on iOS devices with the release of iOS 12. The device had proved adept at unlocking iPhones and iPads, but that’s all in the past now.
Now, though, Apple has put up what may be an insurmountable wall. Multiple sources familiar with the GrayKey tech tell Forbes the device can no longer break the passcodes of any iPhone running iOS 12 or above. On those devices, GrayKey can only do what’s called a “partial extraction,” sources from the forensic community said. That means police using the tool can only draw out unencrypted files and some metadata, such as file sizes and folder structures.
Police officer Captain John Sherwin of the Rochester Police Department in Minnesota when asked if iOS 12 was preventing GrayKey from unlocking iPhones, replied:
“That’s a fairly accurate assessment as to what we have experienced. Give it time and I am sure a ‘workaround’ will be developed … and then the cycle will repeat. Someone is always building a better mousetrap, whether it’s Apple or someone trying to defeat device security.”
It isn’t clear exactly how Apple was able to lock out GrayKey. Vladimir Katalov, chief of forensic tech provider Elcomsoft was stumped.
“No idea. It could be everything from better kernel protection to stronger configuration-profile installation restrictions,” he suggested. The kernel is the core part of the operating system, from which the rest of iOS launches. Configuration profiles typically allow individuals and companies to customize the ways in which iOS apps work.
The GreyKey box is connected to an iPhone and then uses proprietary software to crack the passcode via brute force, taking as little as 6.5 minutes to crack a 4-digit passcode. 6-digit passcodes could take up to 11 hours or so.