News Column

Patent Issued for User Authentication on an Electronic Device

February 11, 2014

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Information Technology Newsweekly -- According to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews journalists, a patent by the inventors Casey, Brandon J. (San Jose, CA); Cressall, Erik (San Jose, CA), filed on August 20, 2009, was published online on January 28, 2014.

The assignee for this patent, patent number 8638939, is Apple Inc. (Cupertino, CA).

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present disclosure relates generally to controlling access to information or applications stored on an electronic device, such as a handheld or portable device. This section is intended to introduce the reader to various aspects of art that may be related to various aspects of the present disclosure, which are described and/or claimed below. This discussion is believed to be helpful in providing the reader with background information to facilitate a better understanding of the various aspects of the present disclosure. Accordingly, it should be understood that these statements are to be read in this light, and not as admissions of prior art.

"Portable electronic devices, such as notebook computers, cellular telephones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and so forth, are commonly used to store various types of confidential information. Such confidential information may include phone numbers, personal and professional contacts, information related to finances or financial accounts, business related projects, personal photos or videos, and so forth. While storing such confidential information on a portable electronic device allows the user greater flexibility in terms of how, when, and where to use such data, it also increases the risk that the confidential data may be lost or stolen. In particular, if the portable electronic device is lost or stolen, any confidential information stored on the device may be at risk.

"Conventional security measures, such as the use of alphanumeric security codes (e.g., passwords or personal identification numbers (PINs)), may fail to provide adequate security. In particular, screens or fields for entering a password or PIN may be obvious to a bystander who may be able to view the security code and will recognize the code to be a password or PIN. In addition, users often select passwords or PINS that can be guessed, such as passwords based on the names of family members or pets or PINS that are based on birthdays. Security codes such as these may be guessed by acquaintances or others who have only a casual relationship with the owner of the device and thus do not provided a high degree of security for the stored confidential information. Thus, use of conventional alphanumeric security codes may provide insufficient security for confidential information stored on portable or other electronic devices."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "A summary of certain embodiments disclosed herein is set forth below. It should be understood that these aspects are presented merely to provide the reader with a brief summary of these certain embodiments and that these aspects are not intended to limit the scope of this disclosure. Indeed, this disclosure may encompass a variety of aspects that may not be set forth below.

"The present disclosure relates to the use of security measures based on non-alphanumeric inputs that are user configurable (as opposed to biometric inputs) to control access to restricted information or functions. For example, access to confidential information may be based on a gesture input via a touch-sensitive input device, such as a touch screen or touchpad. In such implementations, the gesture may be converted into a cryptographic key to allow access to encrypted data and/or to functions that are accessed using a cryptographic key. Likewise, a gesture may be used to invoke an authentication screen for accessing confidential information or functions that is otherwise not available.

"Alternatively, access to confidential information may be based on selection of a series of displayed objects in a particular sequence. In such an implementation, the objects may be photos, icons, or other displayed objects that appear to part of a standard interface or application screen of the device, i.e., when displayed the options do not appear to be associated with a security or login functionality of the device. In certain embodiments, the order or placement of the displayed objects may be randomized with each invocation of the authentication screen.

"Further, other non-alphanumeric, non-biometric inputs may also be part of the user authentication process. For example, inputs from a Global Positioning System (GPS) provided with the electronic device may be a factor in accessing confidential information. In such an example, access may be prohibited at certain locations or only allowed at certain locations Likewise, different access schemes may be employed at certain locations, i.e., no access control at some locations, password or PIN protection at other locations, and non-alphanumeric access control at other locations. Such location based controls may also be implemented to take into account other factors that may be determined on the device, such as day and time."

For more information, see this patent: Casey, Brandon J.; Cressall, Erik. User Authentication on an Electronic Device. U.S. Patent Number 8638939, filed August 20, 2009, and published online on January 28, 2014. Patent URL:

Keywords for this news article include: Apple Inc., Information Technology, Information and Cryptography.

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Source: Information Technology Newsweekly

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