Feeds

Apple eyes kill switch for jailbroken iPhones

...for your own good

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Apple has applied for a patent covering an elaborate series of measures to automatically protect iPhone owners from thieves and other unauthorized users. But please withhold the applause.

The patent, titled “Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device,” would also protect Apple against jailbreaks and other unauthorized hacks to the device, which were recently excepted from copyright enforcement.

The application, which was filed in February and published Thursday, specifically describes the identification of “hacking, jailbreaking, unlocking, or removal of a SIM card” so that measures can be taken to counter the user. Possible responses include surreptitiously activating the iPhone's camera, geotagging the image and uploading it to a server and transmitting sensitive data to a server and then wiping it from the device.

Rest assured that this jailbreaking identification, the application would have us believe, is simply a means of protecting owners from unauthorized users.

“Access to sensitive information such as credit card information, social security numbers, banking information, home addresses, or any other delicate information can be prohibited,” the application states. “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.”

But elsewhere, the patent betrays ulterior motives that are considerably more self serving.

“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,” the patent continues. “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.”

The application describes plenty of bells and whistles. They include voice-printing of the owner to detect unauthorized users (what could possibly go wrong with that?), activating the accelerometer to detect if thieves are in transit – even a “heartbeat sensor.”

Ignoring the possibility that a false positive in Apple's proposed theft protection might activate the spy cam while the user is in the bath, or in the middle of some other intimate moment, this technology seems Orwellian for another reason: It gives Steve jobs and Co. the means to retaliate when iPhones aren't being used in ways Cupertino doesn't expressly permit.

But remember, it's for your own good. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
Jaguar Sportbrake: The chicken tikka masala of van-sized posh cars
Indian-owned Jag's latest offering curries favour with us
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Here's your chance to buy an ancient, working APPLE ONE
Warning: Likely to cost a lot even for a Mac
Xiaomi boss snaps back at Jony Ive's iPhone rival 'theft' swipe
I'll have a handset delivered. Judge us after you try us...
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.