Feeds

Did Kim Dotcom invent 2-factor authentication? Er, not exactly...

Pull out your pagers and your Hammer pants, we're going back to the '90s

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

Twitter is the latest major web service to beef up its security two-factor authentication (2FA). The security feature is a pretty simple and effective approach - and one the notorious Mega kingpin Kim Dotcom claims today to have invented back in the '90s.

Two-factor auth is a simple process for verifying that the user accessing a service is legitimate. A random code is sent from the web service (via SMS) to the person's phone, and the user then types the code into an authentication dialog on a web page.

But did Dotcom really invent 2FA for remote authentication? In short, it appears he did not.

In 1996, the then-Kim Schmitz filed for a patent entitled "Method for authorizing in data transmission systems". The patent has a priority date of 29 April 1997, and it does indeed describe a two-factor authentication system. The user logs into a service, triggers a secondary authentication request, and this is fulfilled by SMS.

But Ericsson filed a patent titled "User authentication method and apparatus" with a priority date of 24 June 1994 that also covered 2FA using a pager or phone. A later patent filed by Nokia ["Method for obtaining at least one item of user authentication data"] with a priority date of 23 February 1996 resembles even more closely the 2FA approach used on the web today.

Kim Dotcom's patent through the European Patent Office was cancelled in 2011 after opposition from Ericsson.

Kim Dotcom's US patent remains in force. Whether the US Patent Office or the United States District Court of Texas would confirm the validity of the patent is an interesting question.

On his Twitter page, Kim Schmitz/Dotcom describes himself an "innovator". To earn the title, you've got to introduce something new. Kim Schmitz/Dotcom - in this case at least - doesn't appear to have done so.®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Attackers raid SWISS BANKS with DNS and malware bombs
'Retefe' trojan uses clever spin on old attacks to grant total control of bank accounts
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.