On December 18, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a new unlock option being devised. The new method would involve Touch ID and the addition of a combination lock code using finger motion. While using Touch ID, the user would additionally move or shift their finger in various directions to hit a particular code sequence to unlock their devices. Apple illustrates two methods for this new virtual combination unlock feature in their patent filing.
According to a New York Times report published this week, a particularly nasty mobile malware campaign targeting Android users has hit between four million and 4.5 million Americans since January of 2013. In a mid-January security report published by Cisco, they claimed that ninety-nine percent of all mobile malware targeted Android devices. And while security firms have tried to sully Apple's iOS reputation for not having malware with reports about the recent Masque attack, Apple responded quickly. They also noted that they "…designed OS X and iOS with built-in security safeguards to help protect customers and warn them before installing potentially malicious software." This week the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals systems and methods for a security measure that prevents unauthorized calls from being made to protected functions of software. Apple describes embedding secrets to each function that can't be hacked.
On July 17, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a possible future "Find My iPhone" security feature. The invention is intended to allow the finder of a lost iDevice to initiate a communication with a particular contact stored in the device by bypassing the device's security scheme. In April we posted a report titled "Apple Agrees to Provide a Kill Switch on iPhones in 2015." The report noted that in San Francisco 60% of all robberies involved the theft of a mobile device and in neighboring Oakland it was up to a whopping 75%. The report noted that legislation had been tabled in California to force tech companies to do more to secure mobile devices and its contents. Apple currently provides mobile device users with a feature called "Find My iPhone." This current patent application marks Apple's third security related patent of the day. The other two security related features were covered in our first report titled "Apple Invents Wildly Advanced Bumping Technology."
The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 51 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover one of Apple's granted patents relating to a Secure Enclave Processor. Such a processor was first introduced in Apple's A7 chip for securing a user's fingerprint in conjunction with Apple's new Touch ID feature introduced with the iPhone 5S. While todays granted patent regarding a Secure Enclave Processor covers authentication, it also covers securing other forms of private data.
On July 3, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published another security related patent application from Apple. Apple's first security invention published earlier today revealed a "Dual-Factor Authentication System for the iTunes Store." In this second security-centric patent application, Apple reveals advanced security based on location. Apple covers "fixed locations" like your home or Office and "mobile locations" like when you're shopping, at a coffee shop or inside your car (or other vehicles). The specific system designed for the car is obviously going to be a part of Apple's forthcoming CarPlay. Whether Apple will roll the fixed location interfaces into their forthcoming "Home" app is not known at this time. Intelligent location-based security will be able to change your security settings on the fly.
On July 3, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a new dual-factor authentication system for Apple's iTunes Store and beyond. Whether you're buying a Mac or renting a movie from iTunes, Apple wants to beef up security to safeguard your account. The new system will introduce two key elements to their authorization process that will make it extremely difficult for un-Authorized user's to make a purchase on your account. Technically Apple will be adding a third factor, by asking questions about your purchase history.
Apple has been working on biometric sensors for fingerprint scanners for iDevices and the MacBook since at least 2009. In 2010 we reported that Apple was working on a fingerprint scanner that could work under a device's display and in late 2012 Apple revealed their fingerprint scanner for use as an e-commerce and general security feature for the iPhone. Today, the US Patent and Trademark Office revealed Apple's latest alternative fingerprint scanner design that could be integrated directly into the bezel of a given device. In operation, a user will simply swipe a finger over a surface of the sensor. The sensor will capture a number of thin strips of the fingerprint as the finger is swiped, and the complete fingerprint is assembled in software for use in authentication. Such a sensor apparatus is typically preferred when a compact sensor is desired.
The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 34 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In our first granted patent report of the day we cover Apple's four new design wins covering a docking station and three iOS elements. Yet the big surprise this morning is for an all-new invention relating to user security while shopping online. This is the second such surprise within a year. The first one we covered discussed a new Anti-Big Brother surveillance system. This appears to be a part of a huge project at Apple that may be a part of a future iWallet application.
On February 7, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple titled "Image-Based Authentication." The inventor noted on the patent application is Apple's Quality Assurance Manager for Apple TV, Ethan Lowry. Apple's invention generally relates to authenticating a user of a computing device by displaying one or more images to the user and receiving input that identifies object(s) depicted in the one or more images. Apple currently has a number of next generation authentication systems in the wings. One similar to today's invention was published in September 2012 regarding Facial Recognition. A second involves a two-step slide-to-unlock process and a third that is most promising involves a straight forward fingerprint scanning process associated with today's slide-to-unlock process. Today's invention while interesting, is a little complicated in contrast to Apple's one step fingerprint scanner. Yet until Apple actually introduces their next generation authentication system, we can't rule out any of their future approaches.
On November 8, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published two security related patent applications from Apple. One reveals the secrets behind the security cables found attached to all devices at every Apple Store on the planet. The second security patent provides us with a serious look at a new adaptive security system for iDevices that will work easily for the regular home user while being able to be ramped right up to a multi-tiered high security level that could utilize retinal scans and other forms of biometrics that would be ideal for the savvy enterprise user.
On Tuesday Apple was granted a patent for a two-step unlock screen feature that has yet to be implemented. Today, Apple introduces us to an all-new unlock screen feature that utilizes higher integrated security features via biometrics that could also be used in e-Commerce transactions. In late September we reported on Intel's big push into building biometrics into future Wintel devices – and so it comes as no surprise that we now find that Apple has been refining next wave e-Commerce security features using highly sophisticated biometrics. To accelerate their biometric projects Apple recently acquired AuthenTec in July. The race is definitely on to get consumers ready for the next wave of e-Commerce transactions and to ensure that they're processed securely.
Back in January Peter Oppenheimer stated that the iPad was continuing "its unprecedented adoption in business. And as more businesses adopt iPads, Apple needs to ensure corporate IT departments that their security meets higher standards. Last week four new security patents came to light and were captured in our report titled "Apple Advances Security System Technology for the Enterprise." Today, four additional security patents have been published by the US Patent and Trademark Office that cover systems and methods for tamper-resistant booting, fighting against malicious code aimed at portable devices and more.
During Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference last week in Toronto, Canada, Steve Ballmer vowed that they weren't "going to leave any space uncovered to Apple." He later added that "We have our advantages in terms of enterprise management," and then shouted "But we are not going to let any piece of this [go uncontested to Apple]," reported CRN. So why is Microsoft freaking out now? Because Apple is getting a little too close to home base. Back in January Peter Oppenheimer stated that the iPad was continuing "its unprecedented adoption in business. Nearly all the top companies, within major Fortune 500 markets, including pharma, manufacturing, hospitality, consumer products, financial services, healthcare and retail are actively using iPad to improve workflows, business processes and customer engagement." Some of the companies that Oppenheimer pointed out included the likes of Royal Dutch Shell, Credit Suisse, Kimberly-Clark, St. Jude Medical, Nike, Danske Bank and Facebook. Adding to this, John Paczkowski of All ThingsD reported that 95% of the tablets going into the Fortune 500 Companies were iPads. Is it clear enough that Apple is focusing on the Fortune 500 and the enterprise market in general? If it's not, then consider a new round of high profile security patent applications published this past week by the US Patent Office that reveals that Apple is developing new features to work with the already high end Advanced Encryption Standard approved by the US Government. So it's no wonder Mr. Ballmer was freaking out this past week. The one time consumer-centric company called Apple is now on the warpath toward the enterprise at full throttle with iOS leading the charge. So yes Mr. Ballmer, we get it, you just woke up and you're freaking out. So enough with talk, let the war games begin. But for now, we'll take a look at Apple's new security patents.
On June 21, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a series of utility centric patent applications from Apple that cover security, display luminance, flash memory, mobile device simulation and more. In the big picture, the vast majority of Apple's annual patent-count is derived from utility patents. These are the kinds of patents that take care of all the tiniest of details behind Apple's most popular products, processes and manufacturing. They might not represent the visionary side of Apple, but they sure keep the trains running on time. They're also part of Apple's legendary and fanatical detailing process that goes into every upgrade and next generation product. On the flipside, we sure hope that Apple's creative and visionary side reemerges because the volume of patents of late in that area have been nothing shy of anemic. Here's to hoping that Apple is in the process of changing gears and inventing their next generation of knock-out products for us to enjoy.