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Security researcher says breaking into locked iPhone not that hard

Apple disagrees, calling the testing 'incorrect'

Photo (c) Wachiwit - Getty Images
Apple's security for its locked iPhones is said to be ironclad, but a cybersecurity expert says it can be circumvented, as long as you have a Lightning cable connecting the phone to a computer.

As a security feature, an iPhone can only be unlocked if you enter the correct password, and to prevent someone from guessing, the device only gives a user 10 tries. After that, a user is locked out, sometimes permanently.

The issue was in the news a couple of years ago after police seized the iPhone belonging to a man who murdered co-workers attending a holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif. Apple refused to unlock the phone, forcing authorities to turn to outside experts in an effort to crack the device.

'Brute force'

According to Matthew Hickey, a security expert and co-founder of Hacker House, a cybersecurity firm, it's not that hard to open a locked iPhone using a "brute force" method. In a series of tweets, Hickey said that if you connect the phone to a computer using a Lightning cable and enter passwords using the keyboard, instead of typing directly on the phone, you can enter an unlimited number of passwords with no adverse consequences.

When technology websites began reporting this over the weekend, Apple responded, saying it's not true. Technology site Engadget reports an Apple spokesperson as saying the phones have no vulnerability and the claim that they do is "the result of incorrect testing."

Hickey, meanwhile, posted a video on Vimeo, demonstrating his methods of cracking an iPhone.

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