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Technology (Apple) Patents Technology

Apple Files Patent for "Tamper-Resistant Code" 401

Posted by samzenpus
from the can't-touch-this dept.
freaktheclown writes "The US Patent and Trademark Office has revealed that Apple has filed patent no. 20050246554 for a "system and method for creating tamper-resistant code." The system is presumably for use in Apple's Intel version of its Tiger operating system."
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Apple Files Patent for "Tamper-Resistant Code"

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  • by Paska (801395) * on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @07:50PM (#13994117) Homepage
    For those who are interested, link to the original application publication. [uspto.gov]
  • Oh, I get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ndansmith (582590) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @07:53PM (#13994139)
    If you set the source code file to "Read Only," no one can change it.

    Why didn't I think of that?

    Seriously, this idea sounds so silly, it will only invite more developers to hack OSx86 in their spare time. With OpenDarwin already ported to x86, unless they make serious changes to the OS X kernel, I doubt any measure of TPM will be able to keep people from homebrewing their Macs now.

    • Nothing beats the smell of a homebrewed mac in the morning :)
    • Apple aren't stupid, they don't put their "won't run on non-Macs" DRM in the kernel, or any other open sourced part of the system. It's all in Aqua's core.
    • Re:Oh, I get it (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MacGod (320762)
      Ultimately, I don't think Apple cares much about the geeks hacking away at this. Most of their customers won't bother with any such hacking (especially given Apple's traditional target markets of non-techie creative users in film, image editing etc and the comparatively-neophyte home users). And even if they did get OS X to work on their Dell PC, there would be no drivers for their modem, sound card, video card etc. It just wouldn't be worth the hassle for most people.

      What this will do (and this is why it's
  • That's fair. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JohnnyLocust (855742) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @07:54PM (#13994143) Homepage
    Seeing how Apple's business model revolves mostly around hardware sales, I can understand why they'd go to such lengths to keep people from installing it on any computer they want.
    • I can understand why they'd go to such lengths to keep people from installing it on any computer they want.

      You mean like switching from the PowerPC CPU which is very uncommon in the market to the x86 which dominates the market?

      Yep, that's quite a length they're going to to protect their code.
    • Re:That's fair. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by martalli (818692)
      Because the draw to their hardware is the software and easy user environment. Everyone is going to prefer using the software on their low-cost dell and homebrew boxen over snazzy looking, overpriced hardware.

      If they could get past the issue of drivers, maybe they ought to be selling this like windows, though. After all, their OS is leaps ahead of Win XP in usability...they could charge for the software. They could require system vendors to demonstrate conpatibility before getting an "Apple Compatible" lo
      • Re:That's fair. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Omestes (471991) <omestes @ g m a il.com> on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @09:18PM (#13994675) Homepage Journal
        Apple is not MS, I think they have other standards besides JUST market share.

        I think they want to be BETTER in all ways, and let that sell their computers.

        Jobs is a perfectionist, I think, before he is a capitalist.

        You make better customers when you do this, have a superior product in all ways. How many Windows fanatics are there compaired to the Mac people. Much more? Pretty good being that MS has a 80% market share, yeah?
        • Re:That's fair. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by zootm (850416)

          I don't really mean to sound whiney, but it's never cool to like the market leader. It's cool to like the smaller company. Macs are good for art, so the artist clique are the ones that identify the systems as cool — just as "proper" geeks are usually Linux enthusiasts. It's all image.

          I don't think there's as much of a void between Apple and MS as people think. Apple's market share just comes from their "cool factor", so it's something they focus on.

        • You don't know Steve Jobs. What qualifies you to define his character and personality so absolutely?

          You aren't on Apple's board of directors. What qualifies you to discuss his company's methods and intentions as if you are?

          True, I don't know you either, but your words suggest that you're on a steady diet of Apple kool-aide.

          Why is it that software patents and IP law in general is evil except when it comes to Slashdot darlings like Apple and Google? The inconsistency and hypocrisy is a sure sign that relig
    • Re:That's fair. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by catwh0re (540371) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @02:16AM (#13995939)
      Another good example is that Apple's new iMac comes with a remote control and software that is driven by this. This software has now been hack to run on all Apple hardware with very little effort, even though it's not meant to be used on non-iMac computers.
      Sure it runs, but it runs best when there is a remote control driving it.
      My point is that Apple have logical ways that entice people to spend their money rather than hack around it, if the mac is for convienience and luxury, then hacking, possible slowdowns via emulated hardware and losing stability are simply not on the agenda.

      Additionally a similar argument is that alot of Mac software doesn't come with activation(when their intel counterparts do.) This is because there is strong correlation between people that purchase macs and people who are willing to cough up the dollars for software to run on it. A person who is unwilling to pay for software, is also someone who is unwilling to pay the premium prices that apple ask for.

      And Another: You can burn all your DRM iTunes Music Store songs to CDs, re-rip them and put them on any device you like... but the majority are happy with just using it on an iPod.

      My point is that, by taking away trivial hacks to make OSX work on generic hardware, the people who are likely to buy a mac, still will. The people who are never going to buy a mac, will hack it and run it on any hardware they like and probably aren't interested in purchasing an apple anyway; but this will just eat away a bit of that MS Windows marketshare. (Which makes Jobs happy.)

  • by AFCArchvile (221494) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @07:56PM (#13994161)
    It's called "tamper-resistant" because the Titanic was unsinkable.
  • Sounds impossible (Score:2, Interesting)

    by slashname3 (739398)
    Sounds kind of like having an acid that can eat through anything. How do you can you keep it in a container if it can eat through anything?

    Wonder if it will take more than 48 hours for someone to figure out a way to crack this one?
    • How do you can you keep it in a container if it can eat through anything?
      Those who didn't watch Star Trek are doomed to watch reruns, over and over.

      Magnetic containment field?

    • Find a material it eats through very slowly?
      • Well, if you're using grog [cheatbook.de], then you just need an infinite supply of cups.

        [Apologies for those people who wanted to struggle on with how to complete Monkey Island]
    • Re:Sounds impossible (Score:5, Informative)

      by StikyPad (445176) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @10:08PM (#13994954) Homepage
      Sounds kind of like having an acid that can eat through anything. How do you can you keep it in a container if it can eat through anything?

      By separating it into 2 or more inert components and storing them seperately. How is that at all like tamper-resistant code?

      It's not impossible to create code that is very difficult to alter in a desirable manner, unless that desire is to have it cease functioning. The current StarForce copy protection achieves this by encrypting the executable and libraries of the program in question, and then running them on its own virtual machine which runs at the driver level. It sounds like Apple is planning to do exactly the same thing, unless I'm misinterpreting their patent. Each of their points says:
      "a machine-readable medium that provides instructions, which when executed by a machine, cause the machine to perform operations comprising: installing a first object code program, wherein the installing includes, statically translating the first object code program into a second object code program that is executable on a machine, wherein the statically translating includes, determining an identifier based on a state of the machine or a user attribute; and obfuscating the first object code program or the second object code program, wherein the obfuscating depends on the identifier; and storing the second object code program for execution by the machine."
      But that's just how I'm reading it.. I could be wrong. At any rate, StarForce has yet to be cracked directly, but since its main purpose is to prevent copying, other weaknesses have been exploited; mainly in the area of virtual drives. Evidently it tries to identify the drives on a system, and if it successfully IDs one, it will require the disc to be placed in that drive. To ensure forward compatibility, if it cannot identify any of the drives, it will accept any drive that the disc appears to be in. It still attempts to blacklist virtual devices though, so the virtual drive software must be obfuscated. As I said, the only successful means of defeating the protection thus far have been to alter the data external to the program; the executables and DLLs themselves have not been successfully cracked, except when the publisher opted not to use encryption.
    • use jets of air or ultrasonic vibrations to distupt it's ability to react with the container
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @07:56PM (#13994170)
    1. A method comprising: receiving a first object code block; translating the first object code block into a second object code block, wherein the translating includes applying tamper-resistance techniques to the first object code block or the second object code block; and executing the second object code block.

    Sounds like a checksum would fall into that category.
  • Prior Art! (Score:5, Funny)

    by EdwinBoyd (810701) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @07:56PM (#13994171)
    I do believe HAL 9000's tamper resistant code kicked into high gear around hour 2 of 2001.

    "I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that"
  • by Trevin (570491) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @07:59PM (#13994192) Homepage
    My first reaction to this subject was "there is no code which cannot be cracked, given enough time and determination."

    After looking over the article, the method reminds me of Synapse Software's SynCalc (and related) programs for the 8-bit Atari computers. They had some real good code obfuscation, and they managed to do it in less that 48K of RAM! I never did get as far as figuring out whether they were using more than one level of a virtual machine, code obfuscation, or what have you.
    • Why is Slashdot so obsessed with cracking OS X to run it on generic x86 machines? So they don't have to pay for OS X? You know it's strictly for warezing up on Bittorrent to screw Apple.
      • Why is Slashdot so obsessed with cracking OS X to run it on generic x86 machines? So they don't have to pay for OS X? You know it's strictly for warezing up on Bittorrent to screw Apple.
        Er, no. It's to avoid paying Apple usurious rates for hardware.
      • or perhaps to run purchased OSX on cheap commodity hardware? I could save $200 for OSX, but as a poor student, buying a new computer just because I want OSX is a little out of reach.
      • Why is Slashdot so obsessed with cracking OS X to run it on generic x86 machines? So they don't have to pay for OS X? You know it's strictly for warezing up on Bittorrent to screw Apple.

        Because we like to tinker and see it as a challenge. Especially since most people are anticipating Apple using every trick they can come up to prevent it. I'm sure that there will be a significant portion of slashdotters who are looking forward to getting a copy of OS X for Intel just to see if they can get it to run, only
  • Don't they mean... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chickenofbristol55 (884806) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @08:01PM (#13994207) Homepage
    ...that they just want people not to tamper with their code? I see no need for a patent. I recall a time when a patent was for something important: a novel idea or mechanism of some kind. Making a patent doesn't really do much, other than making it impossible for other people/companies to hack into osX 86. But then again, it was illegal anyway, so no one could (legally) hack osX x86 before this patent. Seems kind of redundant.
    • Don't you mean it makes it illegal for anyone else to build a tamper-resistant software product (using this method) and/or tool for making other software tamper-resistant? At no point does this patent prevent the tampering, nor circumvention of the not-quite-uncircumventable method. The legality of tampering is irrelevant.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @08:03PM (#13994220)
    They are patenting Perl?
  • by spirit_fingers (777604) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @08:06PM (#13994243)
    For me as an administrator in a Mac-centric company, the most interesting part of this is Apple's accomodation of Linux, Windows and the Mac OS on their intel platform while simultaneously attempting to prevent their OS from being installed on a generic intel PC. If Apple can pull it off, it will give a significant value-add to their intel boxes. That's something that Micheal Dell would give his right arm to be able to do.
    • That's something that Micheal Dell would give his right arm to be able to do.
      Since Apple is getting a patent on this process, he'll likely have to, if he wants to use it.
    • That's something that Micheal Dell would give his right arm to be able to do.
      ObMST3K: "I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous!"
    • by saha (615847) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @10:56PM (#13995173)
      See request #4. Note this was dated Oct 5th 2005, before the announcement PCI Express gfx cards.


      What the (blank) department would like to see in future Intel based Macintosh computers.

      1. A multi-button mouse. With the recent "Mighty Mouse" part of this need has been address. Although, this mouse could use more ergonomic feedback and improvements. A default option from the Apple Store for the "Mighty Mouse" is fine, but additional choices for a two button or three button mouse from a pull down menu choice will give customers more flexibility.

      2. The HFS+ journaled filesystem must coexist with an NTFS, or any Linux filesystem like XFS or ext3 on a multi- partition harddrive.

      3. Intel based Macs should have IEEE-1394 support and have Firewire target mode and netboot from EFI (the new Intel based BIOS)

      4. Intel based Macs should be able to run Windows XP SP2 on it and future Windows Vista. i.e. minimize or eliminate custom ASICs on motherboard that would cause problems installing Windows. Dual booting Intel based Macs will be desirable, but what would be even better is virtualization using Intel's Vanderpool technology to run the few Windows applications that haven't been ported to Mac OS X i.e. AutoCad, Rhino 3D.

      5. Intel based Macs have to support PCI Express x16 for graphics cards. Support high end professional graphics card from Nvidia Quadro and ATI FireGL with CoreImage support is absolutely critical for engineering, scientific and the visualization industry. If possible a 3rd player supporting Mac OS X, like 3DLabs Wildcat Realizm series. This would greatly benefit the Mac OS X platform as a more serious player in the CAD and high end computer graphics industries.

      Last but not least for all Macs (x86 and PPC) an easy integration with Active Directory or AFS for user login. Currently both methods require work on Mac OS X.

  • Emulators (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @08:07PM (#13994247)
    Nevermind the DRM stuff, this is the interesting part. OS X/Wine, anyone?

    20. A method comprising: receiving a system call, wherein the system call is formatted for requesting a service from a first operating system, wherein the system call is included in a first object code block, wherein the first object code block is a run-time translation of a second object code block; determining which system call services of a second operating system are needed for providing the service; determining whether system call services for servicing the system call have been disabled, wherein the determining is based on a tamper-resistance policy; servicing the system call, if the system call services for servicing the system call have not been disabled.

    21. The method of claim 20, wherein the tamper-resistance policy disables system call services that access system resources.

    22. The method of claim 20, wherein the first operating system is selected from the set consisting of Mac OS X, Linux, and Microsoft Windows.

    23. The method of claim 20, wherein the second operating system is selected from the set consisting of Mac OS X, Linux, and Microsoft Windows.

    • ... kindhearted soul please translate claim 20 from Lawyer to plain English for me?

      20. A method comprising: receiving a system call, wherein the system call is formatted for requesting a service from a first operating system, wherein the system call is included in a first object code block, wherein the first object code block is a run-time translation of a second object code block; determining which system call services of a second operating system are needed for providing the service; determining whether s
      • by kebes (861706) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @08:34PM (#13994422) Journal
        I'll gladly translate into multiple dialects for you.

        Marketing language:
        "20. A method comprosing: receiving a system call, wherein the system call is in synergy with other components of a system, wherein the sum of the system is leveraged to meet market demands in a new and fundamentally influential way, wherein a paradigm-shift results from the impact of the novel processes and inherently forward-looking business model that thereby ensues."

        Money language:
        "20. A method comprising: we program our computer to do something, someone else somewhere on earth programs their computer to do something that turns out to be similar; we determine that they have a computer doing something that only we are allowed to do; we sue; we make money."

        Tinfoil-hat language:
        "20. A method comprising: receiving a system call, wherein the system call is formatted to include all personal information on the computer, wherein this information is then encrypted and sent off to corporate HQ servers in order to be analyzed and thereafter used against the user of the originating personal computer sytem."

        (very) Plain english:
        "20. A method comprising: stuff happens."

        Plain english:
        "20. A method comprising: A translation layer between different operating system abstraction levels. When a running program (which may have been translated from a stored version of the program) makes a system call to the operating system, this methodology will handle that system call in such a way as to be "tamper resistant." For instance, it will only allow operations determined to be acceptable."
  • Old Idea-Prior Art (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TFGeditor (737839) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @08:07PM (#13994253) Homepage
    Back in the day when memory was at a premium (64k-bytes max), self-replicating code was the bane of both "hackers" and sys admins.

    (yawn)
    • Self-replicating code has always been the bane of everyone... since that is nearly the definition of a computer virus.

      You were probably looking for the phrase "self modifying".
  • An excerpt from an article on Architosh: [architosh.com]

    However, the patent describes a process whereby users would be able to load one of three operating systems as their primary OS and then load a secondary operating system as their secondary OS. In the patent application, titled, System and method for creating tamper-resistant code, they describe the process as thus:

    22. The method of claim 20, wherein the first operating system is selected from the set consisting of Mac OS X, Linux, and Microsoft Windows.

    23. The method of claim 20, wherein the second operating system is selected from the set consisting of Mac OS X, Linux, and Microsoft Windows.

    From the sound of this, Apple is indeed going to do what I had simultaneously hoped for and feared: They're going to enable people to boot into OS X and run Windows at the same time (and vice versa)-- probably very similar to the way Classic runs now.

    I had hoped for this because it makes switching infinitely easier-- people can just load up Windows and their apps on their Intel-based Mac, and make a gradual transition to OS X. Those who use Windows-only vertical-market apps will have the world of the Mac opened up to them.

    I had feared this because there are bound to be some cheap/lazy asshole developers who will take one look at the Windows compatibility environment, cancel the Mac versions of their products, and tell Mac users to just use the Windows versions in said compatibility environment. I'd hate to see this reverse the Mac application availability renaissance that has been going on for the last few years.

    ~Philly
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Tamper-resistant perhaps, but not tamper-proof! Cracks to this (along with everything else developed for the mac) are readily available [macserialjunkie.com]. As the popularity of the platform grows, so will the number of people cracking, hacking and providing patches.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @08:21PM (#13994341) Homepage
    Essentially, I cannot imagine how it could happen effectively. I program is a series of isntructions. We can talk about multiprocessor systems and all that all day long, but the fact is, it's code that is watching code to ensure it is authentic.

    That said, someone could try to create a processor that does not but audit the code being run and that it be outside of the main system's functions. I can imagine a lot of things that could be done with a scenario like that... but again, just like a thousand other things, it'll be hackable.

    Apple should just face the facts: Build on a system that is already populated with crackers and coders who are intimately familiar with hacking software systems, and you are giving them a new toy to play with. They had a good thing going when they were vending relatively unique hardware. Now they have decided to switch, ever increasingly, to less propietary hardware in order to save costs. They did it when they adopted PCI, PC style memory and IDE mass storage devices. Before long, people were upgrading their own systems with non-Apple stuff. Now the very core of the computer itself is being moved over to something more readily available on the market... they don't expect people to want to play?

    They are going to spend a LOT of money to avoid the unavoidable... they are going to waste a LOT of money. At some point they are going to have to choose either to abandon the OSX86 project and go back to PowerPC or just live with the fact that some people will run their OS on PCs not made by them.
    • They are going to spend a LOT of money to avoid the unavoidable...

      Actually, they don't have to spend that much money. They just need to make it robust enough that it can't be casually broken. Then the DMCA does the rest. The hackers can do their worst, but whether or not they succeed won't matter.

      Apple wins either way because the prime objective is to prevent en-masse adoption of Mac OS X on generic Intel hardware, greatly eroding Apple's own hardware sales. As long as Apple's hardware sales are safe, a
  • Missed the point (Score:4, Informative)

    by rhesuspieces00 (804354) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @08:22PM (#13994346) Homepage
    This article has been up on mac-centric news sites for a while now. The difference is that all the others pointed out the more interesting aspect of the new patents: You can select, from MacOS X, Windows, and Linux a primary OS and secondary OS.

    So not only is Apple not preventing users from installing Windows or Linux along side OS X, they are going out of their way to enable them to do so.

    Michael Dell is feeling a tightening of the rectum right about now.

    And yet...slashdotters are still preoccupied with how Apple might someday try to prevent the OS from being installed on non-Apple hardware.
    • You are so right, great post.

      I love my Powerbook and I run VPC for Windows access. I have a solid OS that I love and I let Windows 98, 2000 and XP run in nice little sandboxes while OSX runs the whole show. Very Nice.

      Now if only VPC was faster.

      In a very short time it will be.
  • Prior art? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mr Z (6791) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @08:22PM (#13994347) Homepage Journal
    I think Arxan has significant prior art here. [arxan.com] They specifically mention obfuscation [arxan.com]. I unfortunately can't say much more other than that I've seen some demos of what they offer under NDA. I wish their web site had more meat (e.g. a white paper). I will say they have some bright guys, some of whom come from the NSA, working with them. [arxan.com] Heck, even Gene Spafford [wikipedia.org]'s on their technical advisory board.

    And for the paranoid, I've mentioned nothing above I couldn't find on Arxan's or someone else's public website.
  • microsoft's aim in supporting TCPA was to make their code "tamper resistant" by encrypting parts of the OS with pgp style encryption.. and using tpm modules to store the private pgp code. thereby making only the cpu and "trusted" applications capable of running the code through disassemblers.

    To see apple jumping at something like this first is scary. When i found out apple boards had TPM's i suspected, though objectively. To me.. apple is pretty much signalling their intent to join ranks with gates and h
    • Knowing how jobs has reacted to drm in the past.. it's just shameful.

      Jobs has publically stated that Apple is not in the business of treating its customers like criminals. And what in Apple’s past suggests they support Digital Restrictions Management? I would like to point out that not even the iPod has any form of DRM [slashdot.org] to prevent you from recovering songs off of it.

      So, care to clarify this at all?

      • Jobs has publically stated that Apple is not in the business of treating its customers like criminals.

        That's all well and good... I trust Jobs despite his egotistical nature (unfortunately, he's often right). But...

        What happens when he no longer runs Apple (succumbing to that great GC in the sky, or losing interest, etc.)? Do you trust #2 at Apple to keep this claim? And for how long?

    • I don't think the comparison is fair, they are trying to lock you into hardware, JUST LIKE NOW! Apple is mostly a hardware company, with some really good software as a bonus. They make most of their money off of quality hardware. I hope they keep making money, too. Apple is one of the few companies I support out of the good of my heart, since they are doing business right. (shut up iTunes trolls!)

      Also, my main worry with the x86 switch was that they would loose their "Just Works" image, and enter the a
    • by Erpo (237853)
      microsoft's aim in supporting TCPA was to make their code "tamper resistant" by encrypting parts of the OS with pgp style encryption

      This is not what TCPA is about. The point of TCPA is that a chip in the computer can create a digitally signed report on the software controlling the machine (i.e. BIOS code, boot loader, kernel, device drivers, OS security policy, and any other pertinent information) and send it out the network interface on demand.

      The effect is that in the future when some genius coder cooks u
    • From what i remember of my hardware courses last semester, the newest x86 cpus are basically a cisc interpreter attached to a risc chip.

      More like a translator that converts x86 instructions to a RISC-like internal representation, which might or might not be a reasonable instruction set for machine code. See The Microarchitecture of the Pentium® 4 Processor [intel.com] (the Pentium {Pro,II,III} and the Pentium M are similar in concept).

      All apple would have to do is have intel make the chips: A. without the interp

  • After reading this story, I would like to know how much hardware development Apple is doing for the new Intel processor based Macs. All of my computers have been Macintoshes, from the PowerBook 520c, Blue & White Power Mac G3 (500 Mega Hurts), to my new Power Mac G5 (Dual 2.7GHz G5 w/ 3GB RAM). Apple has taken a very active role in developing the processor for PowerPC chips and chip sets; this is what makes the Power Mac G5 very fast at some tasks. I would like to know if Apple intends to use off-the
    • I know that the new Mactel computers will have Marklar, a PowerPC instruction set converter for the Intel processors

      It's called Rosetta [apple.com] (and it's software, not hardware, if you weren't aware of that).

  • Software patents are a bad idea [wikipedia.org].

    I like Apple products, and I think that on balance the company has done a lot of good for the personal computer industry over the years. However, I really hope they don't keep going down the software patent road. We've seen much gnashing of teeth on Slashdot over similar moves by Microsoft. Let's not be hypocrites. Apple needs to wake up and recognize that they'll gain less than they'll lose from patenting software.

  • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @08:49PM (#13994514) Journal
    22: The method of claim 20, wherein the first operating system is selected from the set consisting of Mac OS X, Linux, and Microsoft Windows.
    23: The method of claim 20, wherein the second operating system is selected from the set consisting of Mac OS X, Linux, and Microsoft Windows.
    29: The method of claim 24, wherein the machine includes an operating system selected from the set consisting of Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.
    66: The machine-readable medium of claim 64, wherein the first operating system is selected from the set consisting of Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.
    67: The machine-readable medium of claim 64, wherein the second operating system is selected from the set consisting of an Apple Macintosh Operating System, Linux, and Microsoft Windows.

  • by podperson (592944) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @10:24PM (#13995017) Homepage
    So patents are apparently written in a very strange way for reasons that no doubt make sense to someone. Aside from converting a tree structure into a series of numbered paragraphs (this patent describes an X being comprised of Y and Z. The Y comprises a Q, R, and S. etc.) it is also written in a bewilderingly specific and yet vague way so as to at all times make it clear that whenever they talk about something in particular, they in fact mean to include stuff that they haven't mentioned and may not even have thought of.

    So, having tried to wade through all of this, here's my potted summary.

    A "tamper-resistant" code block can be created *automatically* (i.e. not by hand) by translating an ordinary code block into a tamper-proof code block. The tamper proof code-block may be composed of checksummed code with extra inserted code that performs arbitrary operations (using, for example, information stored on a ROM, or taken from the computer's clock, or from the user's settings) and then is expected to produce a specific result.

    E.g. multiply the current time by the user's name converted into a number and subtract the checksum of the code block and produce the number it did when the code was initially "tamper-proofed".

    To verify the code has not been tampered with it can be executed in an environment (a virtual machine, say) which behaves like the real environment but where system calls have no effect so that only the ancillory results are produced. If these results aren't right, the code block is rejected.

    I'm probably missing a lot, but the proposed system is AT LEAST this sophisticated, which is a heck of lot more convoluted than, say, checksumming code blocks. I think figuring this out is well beyond the script kiddies that produce the majority of malware.
    • Your analysis seems close. The basics of this technique are not really all that new, a company named Clyde Digital produced several system monitoring tools for VAX/VMS back in the late 80s that loaded VMS system patches. The code for the patches was encrypted uniquely for each customer; the customer's license key was used to decrypt the code as it was loaded into the VMS kernel. This would certainly qualify as an obfuscation, if not the on-the-fly obfuscation mentioned in the patent.

      Creating a chip to

  • evil, bad patent (Score:3, Insightful)

    by idlake (850372) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @01:18AM (#13995758)
    The patent contains no interesting, new methods. Instead, Apple is attempting to patent the general idea of transforming a program into a tamper resistant form.

    The USPTO will probably grant this, or many of its claims, despite its lack of novelty. But this patent is a poster child for what is wrong with the patent system.
  • by Budenny (888916) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @05:48AM (#13996438)
    Here are some of the confused arguments one comes across.

    Apple should not sell the OS seperately because I don't want to buy it. I want the integrated experience. Its a non-sequitur, if that's what you want, buy it. Why should it not sell to others who don't want it?

    Apple is a hardware manufacturer and if it allows people to run the OS on other hardware, it will go out of business. People who argue this, then turn around and claim that Apple hardware is better cheaper and faster than anyone else's. So why will unbundling not lead to a boom in hardware sales?

    Apple shouldn't lock its OS at all. Why not? Of course, its entitled to protect its investment by product activation or DRM or whatever. Everyone else does.

    Finally, we have the argument, if its unbundled, people will try to run it on hardware which will not run it, and this will put off buyers and damage the reputation of the company. This is crazy. It will be shipped with a list of what is supported. And manufacturers of cards, mainboards etc will tell you what the OS requirements are. They do it now, after all. Why would they stop?

    Finally we have the argument, people who buy X and run it on their Toshibas (as ZD-net seems to have done) will not be having the Apple Experience. Well, maybe not. Why do you care? If you want to have the Apple Experience, which seems to consist in looking at a particular case while using X, go ahead. But this is not a reason for selling other people the unbundled X experience, if this is what they want.

    The more I hear people arguing about this, the less sense it makes. Surely the point is, sell the customer what he wants to buy. He probably really does know what he wants. Let the customer worry about value for money and the sort of experience he is having. Don't try to dictate what he is supposed to want or how he is supposed to feel.

Little known fact about Middle Earth: The Hobbits had a very sophisticated computer network! It was a Tolkien Ring...

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