Apple Patent Could Lock Out Unauthorized Users - The UpStream

Apple Patent Could Lock Out Unauthorized Users

posted Sunday Aug 22, 2010 by Nicholas DiMeo

Apple Patent Could Lock Out Unauthorized Users

Apple has decided that remotely removing applications you have downloaded is a thing of the past. The more important issue is those pesky unauthorized iOS users. So, this week, Apple has decided to apply for a patent on a new method to tell the difference between authorized and unauthorized users of a specific iOS device. Once one is detected, the device would be able to shut off certain features or send notifications to services about the disallowed use.

The patent, titled "Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device," describes many ways the device could sense who is using an iPhone or iPad. Included are voice print analysis, photo analysis, heartbeat analysis (what!?), hacking attempts or even "noting particular activities that can indicate suspicious behavior."

Want to know more about this scary, Big Brother-esque operation? Follow the break.

If those terrifying methods detected someone who isn't authorized to use the device, it could trigger a number of automated features designed to protect the device's data, kill the use by the offender and then notify the device owner. Data could also be backed up to a remote server and the device could then be wiped clean. Moreover, the device could automatically snap pictures of the unauthorized user and record the GPS coordinates of the device, as well as monitor and record keystrokes, phone calls or other activity. The information would then be able to be sent to any service, like email, voicemail, Facebook or even MobileMe's cloud service.

As AppleInsider notes, Apple apparently experimented with enabling the iPad to recognize different authorized users and automatically change some settings for that particular user. Such a feature could be somewhat useful on iPads, which are sometimes shared among family members in homes and among several users in schools and businesses.

But with all things Apple, they're taking it a step further. The device can effectively lock out those wanting to spy on what you're doing on the device, and even thieves, by being able to alert the device user of "possible improperties." The features would no doubt be welcome to enterprise users, who need safeguards around data that could be on a mobile device.

So, as scary as this all sounds, Apple seems to be doing some good to try and counter theft and misuse of their products. But history does repeat itself, and this new idea could potentially be used for evil. Let's just hope Apple stays on the greener side of this pasture.

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