December 23, 2014 -
A recently published Apple patent protects enhanced security capabilities embedded in the iPhone, the firm’s flagship mobile device.
The patent describes security features that can be added to the iPhone home button and Touch ID.
The patent application lays out how a Touch ID sensor can be paired with an on-screen combination lock or other secondary security feature, requiring users to move their finger in certain directions to fully unlock a device.
The patent’s abstract notes that an: “An electronic device [iPhone] may include a finger biometric sensor, a display, and a processor coupled to the finger biometric sensor and the display. The processor may be switchable between a user-interface locked mode and a user-interface unlocked model. The processor may be capable of determining a pattern of input motions on the finger biometric sensor and displaying an image on the display corresponding to the pattern of input moitions. The processor may also be capable of switching between the user-interface locked mode and the user-interface unlocked model when the pattern of input motions matches a store pattern representing a user unlock code.”
In effect, this patent describes the addition of two-factor authentication, or 2FA, to Apple mobile devices. 2FA is a method of accessing computing resources with more than just a password, PIN or passcode.
Using a username and password or passcode, together with a piece of information that is unique to a user, such as a biometric identifier, makes it harder for potential intruders to gain access to personal data on an Apple advice.
The published Apple patent application is credited to Dale Setlak, co-founder of AuthenTec. In 2012, Apple purchased AuthenTec Inc. for approximately US$356 million. Through the acquisition, Apple obtained control over many of the foundational technology patents for fingerprint biometrics, along with a broad patent portfolio consisting of 200 issued and filed patents.