Apple Patent Links Power Cord To Password Recovery

The filing, 20120005747A1, describes a method for storing a password recover secret on a peripheral device, including a power adapter. The development would, in essence, turn power cords and other peripherals into a second factor that would make it harder for thieves to gain access to devices they steal.

The filing, 20120005747A1, describes a method for storing a password recover secret on a peripheral device, including a power adapter. The development would, in essence, turn power cords and other peripherals into a second factor that would make it harder for thieves to gain access to devices they steal.

The 16 page patent application, filed on Thursday, describes a system in which a password secret is stored in memory on a special power adapter that is associated with a specific device. Users who forgot the password necessary to access their device would first have to connect the adapter before they were able to view the recovery secret.

The invention is designed to address problems with current password recovery mechanisms and authentication mechanisms, including user-supplied password recovery phrases (too hard to remember) and biometric authentication (requires the owner to be physically present to log in – even if they’ve died!) The power cord recovery method would also stymie thieves who snatch a laptop from a carrying case or car – often leaving the other peripherals behind.

The patent isn’t limited to power cords. Printers, portable hard drives, wireless routers or even a smart phone could act as a second factor. Depending on the implementation, the peripheral could store a recovery secret, or just a part of a multi-part password.

Increasing adoption of mobile computing devices, as well as high profile leaks comprising login credentials for hundreds of thousand of users have revealed weaknesses in current methods for securing devices and online accounts. Despite warnings, many users rely on insecure and easy to guess passwords, and reuse them between different devices and online services

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Discussion

  • Anonymous on

    Sounds like Steam beat them to this quite a while ago with Steamguard.

  • Sniper on

    A very good marketing ploy but probably won't work in practice. How many people keep their laptop peripherals separate from their laptop? Smart phone maybe, but power adaptor? Not sure I would be happy carrying my laptop charger separately to my laptop

    1. i might forget it
    2. if i kept it in my pocket, people would ask if i have a snickers in my pocket or if I am "happy" to see them
    3. it's a pain in the ass

    Some people even keep their SecurID token in their laptop bag!

    Unless the password protects from the moment the BIOS loads it will be ineffective. Most snatch and grab thieves will just re-install the machine, negating the need for a password. A sophisticated, targeted attacker will require time to try to gain access to the system, requiring a power adaptor (included in the bag) in order to keep the machine alive.

  • Anonymous on

    This seems very relivent especially for iPad's and iPhones.  How many people lose their phone or have it stolen every year?  Your power adapter would be safe at home (you could still have another adapter in your car or work for charging only, not password recovery).

    Here's an issue though...what happens if you lose that power adapter... I work in the Navy, and on a ship, power adapters are "missing" all the time.  Maybe someone just takes the wrong one by mistake, or maybe it's stolen.  Are you going to have to call Apple and report it missing and then purchase another $60 adapter (cause you know they will be more expensive than a normal one)?  So they will have to have a "adapter recovery" process for when you lose or damage your pawer adapter.

    Sounds like a rediculously complex system that will not be worth the price for the average user, but maybe for executive level people.

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