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Crime Patents Security Apple

Apple Patents Power Adapter That Recovers Lost Passwords 210

Sparrowvsrevolution writes "Apple has patented a power charger that also serves as a password recovery backup. If a user forgets his Macbook's password, for instance, he simply plugs in the cord, and it would provide a unique ID number stored in a memory chip in the adapter that acts as a decryption key, unscrambling an encrypted copy of the password stored on the machine. The technique, according to the patent, incentivizes better password use by avoiding traditional password recovery techniques that annoy users and lead to disabled or easily-guessed passwords. The new technique is only secure, the patent admits, in cases where the user leaves a mobile device's charger at home. So the idea may make the most sense for long-battery-life devices like iPods, iPads and iPhones rather than laptops, at least until laptop batteries last long enough that users don't take their power adapters with them and expose them to theft."
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Apple Patents Power Adapter That Recovers Lost Passwords

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  • How about this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mysidia ( 191772 ) * on Friday January 06, 2012 @01:18PM (#38611252)

    Put another chip in the wall outlet, that will communicate with a charger device using BPL, Data over Powerline, short range communications, RFID, or bluetooth; e.g. a "Password recovery" agent installed in a device somewhere else in the home plugged into another wall outlet, or built in to the outlet itself. wireless AP, linksys box, NAS, TVs, other home appliances would be good candidates to form a BPL-enabled self-organizing P2P network for facilitation of password recovery and theft prevention.

    Some of the devices could incorporate a GPS location reading. If the device's location has changed significantly, then it is less familiar.

    When the user logs into their computer, and authenticates, there will be a program they run on their computer to cause the power unit to "learn" which will scan the BPL or bluetooth for other devices.

    Require the presence of other "familiar" home devices, for the password recovery procedure to be initiated.

    This could also help if the charger got damaged or lost... just plug a new one in, enter the "House PIN #", and have it build the same shared secret key based on the identities of the familiar devices surrounding it that have an agreed upon shared key.

    Also, high theft-risk non-mobile devices could enter an auto-lockdown mode, if powered on and no "familiar devices" are around.

  • Re:And in one move (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dubbreak ( 623656 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @01:34PM (#38611456)
    I bought one from there too (85w [dealextreme.com] for my macbook, since I thought it might run cooler).

    The led on the magsafe connector doesn't work, but the adapter works great and was a lot cheaper than the official one. Apparently the t-style magsafe aren't very robust and the internal cable gets wrecked. Of course Apple doesn't make that part of the adapter easily replaceable like the power cord (which is much less likely to get wrecked). They really should make it a replaceable part. Dell builds a sturdier power adapter for their entry level laptops (at least in my experience).
  • Re:good idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RyuuzakiTetsuya ( 195424 ) <taiki AT cox DOT net> on Friday January 06, 2012 @01:34PM (#38611458)

    I keep hearing this about patents.

    If it's trivial and non novel then why is no one doing it or previously put a patent on it?

    It's not trivial or non-novel. it's just not being done.

  • Re:good idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @02:16PM (#38612038)

    wrong. at least this time ;)

    lots of good reasons for apple to do this. they want you to continue to use apple hardware and they have a lock-in effect going on. other than that mag-lock stuff, a power brick was a power brick. batteries are starting to be chipped/locked, but so far, I've not seen power sources be locked.

    I bet we'll see that soon, though.

    also, apple did this because they could, not because its a strikingly good idea for the world. you *can* send data comms along a power path and double-up on it. you *can*. but is there a good reason to? there sure is value in keeping power sources somewhat dumb. they push power (current) at you at a fixed voltage or voltage set. no need to crypto-up that path!

    I bet there is also a patent defense plan here. anyone who wants to 'talk' along that path will probably get hit with an apple patent threat-suit, legit or not.

    it does seem like a dumb idea, overall; but apple is getting a few things from this. its not about users. heh - lately, nothing is ever about the users (benefit).

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