Apple filed a patent in February, which got published on Thu 19th August, covering extensive measures in order to protect iPhone owners from thieves and / or other unauthorized users. While, the claim on face value, does seem nice – wait till you actually read about the protective measures themselves.
The patent, called “Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device,” will protect the iPhone against jailbreaks and other unauthorized hacks – this while keeping in mind the fact that jailbreaking was actually exempted from copyright enforcement.The application, describes the identification of “hacking, jailbreaking, unlocking, or removal of a SIM card” so that measures can be taken to counter the user. The list of considered responses include activating the iPhone’s camera – without notifying the user, geotagging the image and uploading it to a server and transmitting sensitive data to a server and then wiping it from the device.
The application also suggests that it only identifies a jailbroken phone, to protect users against malicious or un-authorized use of their phone.
The application also states that
“Access to sensitive information such as credit card information, social security numbers, banking information, home addresses, or any other delicate information can be prohibited”. “In some embodiments, the sensitive information can be erased from the electronic device. For example, the sensitive information can be erased directly after an unauthorized user is detected.”
It adds that
“An activity that can detect an unauthorized user can be any action that may indicate the electronic device is being tampered with by being, for example, hacked, jailbroken, or unlocked”. “For example, a sudden increase in memory usage of the electronic device can indicate that a hacking program is being run and that an unauthorized user may be using the electronic device”.
“’Jailbreaking’ of an electronic device can generally refer to tampering with the device to allow a user to gain access to digital resources that are normally hidden and protected from users. ‘Unlocking’ of a cellular phone can generally refer to removing a restriction that ‘locks’ a cellular phone so it may only be used in specific countries or with specific network providers. Thus, in some embodiments, an unauthorized user can be detected if it is determined that the electronic device is being jailbroken or unlocked.”
As to how does the application plan on countering such actions, it includes a list of countermeasures such as voice-printing of the owner to detect unauthorized users (read big-brother on steroids), activating the accelerometer to detect if thieves are in transit – and even a “heartbeat sensor.”
What do you folks reckon are the chances of this tech getting false positives? Which in turn might send sensitive and private data to Apple’s servers (remember, Technology is a far from perfect domain and mistakes both intentional and unintentional, happen all the damn time). But above all, do readers believe that Apple might use this technology to actually kill devices being used outside of their intended area of use (by unlocking and jailbreaking them, of course!)?