At Wired, Andy Greenberg details two changes in iOS 11 that will make it harder for another user—whether it be someone snooping on you, a thief, or law enforcement—to get at the data on your device:
But in iOS 11, iPhones will not only require a tap to trust a new computer, but the phone’s passcode, too. That means even if forensic analysts do seize a phone while it’s unlocked or use its owner’s finger to unlock it, they still need a passcode to offload its data to a program where it can be analyzed wholesale. They can still flip through the data on the phone itself. But if the owner refuses to divulge the passcode, they can’t use forensic tools to access its data in the far more digestible format for analysis known as SQLite.
That’s a good change and an easy one to make. As the article points out, it doesn’t stop someone from getting at your phone if they have your fingerprint—which you can be compelled to give—but it makes it a lot harder to sift through the data.
But wait! That works in conjunction with another iOS 11 feature:
Apple’s developer beta for iOS 11 also reveals a more straightforward protection against searches of a seized iPhone, too, in the form of a new iOS feature called “S.O.S. mode.” Tap the phone’s [sleep/wake] button five times, and it will launch a new lockscreen with options to make an emergency call or offer up the owner’s emergency medical information. But that S.O.S. mode also silently disables TouchID, requiring a passcode to unlock the phone.
Put those two things together and they make it much harder to access the data on your phone.