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Apple Keeps Advancing Portable Device Security

1b - cover - apple portable security 
Being the leading portable devices company in the world, Apple is constantly advancing new security features so that consumers and business executives could be assured that their sensitive data is locked down. Apple's iOS based devices currently come with a certain degree of security with features like "Find My iPhone" (or iPad etc), high end encryption and remote wipe. Apple is also working on advanced biometrics such as using heart sensors to detect an unauthorized user which is once again covered in today's security patent. Some of the other new security features that may one day work themselves into Apple's portable devices include the device taking a photo of the thief (smile now) or recording the thief's voice. Apple's iOS security is getting so smart, that it'll even know what kind of vehicle that the thief is using your device in – be it a plane, train or automobile and notify the proper authorities.

Patent Background

People often possess and carry around a variety of electronic devices, such as, for example, an iPhone, iPod, iPad, PDA, personal e-mail and/or messaging devices such as the Blackberry. Many of these electronic devices are used frequently by their owners, and the electronic devices may contain personal or sensitive information stored within them. For example, the electronic devices may contain information such as credit card numbers, passwords, social security numbers, bank information, contact lists, or calendar information. Accordingly, if the electronic device is lost or stolen, the loss of the electronic device can be exceedingly disruptive to the owner's peace of mind and security. Thus, the owner may desire to find out where the lost electronic device is located or who may have gained possession of or stolen the electronic device.


Patent Summary

Systems and methods for identifying unauthorized users of an electronic device are provided in today's patent. In particular, systems and methods for detecting an unauthorized user, gathering information related to the electronic device, the unauthorized user, or both, and transmitting an alert notification to a responsible party for the electronic device are provided.

In some embodiments, an unauthorized user could be detected by comparing the identity of the current user to the identities of authorized users of the electronic device. For example, a photograph of the current user could be taken, a recording of the current user's voice could be recorded, the heartbeat of the current user could be recorded, or any combination of the above. The photograph, recording, or heartbeat could be compared, respectively, to a photograph, recording, or heartbeat of authorized users of the electronic device to determine whether they match. If they do not match, the current user could be detected as an unauthorized user.

In some embodiments, an unauthorized user could be detected by noting particular activities that could indicate suspicious behavior. For example, activities such as entering an incorrect password a predetermined number of times in a row, hacking of the electronic device, jailbreaking of the electronic device, unlocking of the electronic device, removing a SIM card from the electronic device, or moving a predetermined distance away from a synced device could be used to detect an unauthorized user.

In some embodiments, when an unauthorized user is detected, information related to the current unauthorized user of the electronic device could be gathered so that their identity could be established. For example, information such as the current unauthorized user's photograph, voice recording, screenshots of the electronic device, keylogs of the electronic device, communication packets (e.g., Internet packets) served to the electronic device, location coordinates of the electronic device, or geotagged photos of the surrounding area could be gathered.

Instead or in addition, when an unauthorized user is detected, various functions of the electronic device could be restricted such as restricted access to particular applications or sensitive information. Sensitive information could also be erased from the electronic device using the iPhone's remote wipe feature.


2 - process for identifying unathorized users 
In some embodiments, an alert notification could be sent to a responsible party when an unauthorized user is detected. The "responsible party" could be any persons suitable to receive the alert notification, such as, for example, the owner of the electronic device, proper authorities or police, persons listed in a contact book in the electronic device, or any combination of the above. In some embodiments, the alert notification could be a general warning that an unauthorized user has been detected (e.g., "Warning, your electronic device may have been stolen"). In some embodiments, the alert notification could contain any of the information gathered in response to an unauthorized user being detected (e.g., photographs, voice recordings, screenshots, geotagged photographs, or any other gathered information).

In some embodiments, when an unauthorized user is detected, an accelerometer can be utilized to determine the mode of transportation of the electronic device. For example, the mode of transportation can be determined by utilizing a signal processing system to identify the "vibration profile" of any movement experienced by the electronic device. The vibration profile can be analyzed to determine whether it matches the vibration profile for movement types such as, for example, walking, running, riding on a train, riding in a car, flying in a plane, or riding on a bike.

Apple credits Taido Nakajima; Taido, Pareet Rahul and Gloria Lin as the inventors of patent application 20100207721, originally filed in Q1 2009.

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Note: For other Apple Security Related Patents, see our new Patents: Security section.




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