Apple's "Slide-to-Unlock" feature has been a thorn in the side of many an Android OEM for some time now. To avoid any such legal problems with Apple, Research in Motion (RIM) has invented their own advanced start screen security features for future BlackBerry devices which are distinctly unique. At the end of the day, RIM has to be applauded for their inventiveness and ability to be original on this front.
RIM Reveals Future BlackBerry Sign-In Features
Computing and communication devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and the like, often store sensitive or confidential information. To protect such information, as well as to prevent unauthorized access to functions on the device, the device may be protected with a password, PIN, or other security code or value.
To access the device's functions and/or information, the user must provide the security code or value, for example via an input interface provided at the device, and may optionally be required to provide other credentials, such as a digital certificate which may be accessed from a separate smart card or other source.
In the big picture, we begin with an overview of RIM's primary Sign-In security features which are smartly noted below in patent figures 19A-B.
As you could see above, RIM's patent FIG. 19A presents us with a user interface example that may appear on a future BlackBerry device. In this example, the user is directed to press on the central target noted as patent point #1950 to indicate that the presses and contacts that are to follow will comprise a new password.
The user is then to press a sequence of target regions noted in patent figure as patent points #1910, 1920, 1930 and 1940 so as to set their password. As you could see in patent FIG. 19B, the password is made up of a series of inventive options. For instance, the user could set their password using a combination of heavy and light touches on designated areas over and above a particular given sequence of touches and so forth.
Another aspect of this password set up process is added feature that relates to Cases of Duress.
Thwarting an Attack under Duress
In a duress scenario, RIM states that an attacker/mugger/thief may attempt to gain access to the user's device by coercing the user into entering the password directly on the device in their presence. Thus, it may be desirable for the user to take certain steps ahead of time that will assist the user under duress.
For example, the user could during the set-up process, initiate encryption of the data on the device, initiate a wipe of the device or otherwise initiate a procedure to corrupt the data during an attack so as to render inaccessible any sensitive data that may be compromised by the attack.
When entering the password in the presence of the attacker, the user could enter a different code or simply enter the right code but at a different pace to render the data useless once the device is started.
Passcode Sensing Regions
In RIM's patent figure 3 noted above we see phantom lines that illustrate five logically defined sensing regions 275a, 275b, 275c, 275d and 275e. Each sensing region is associated with two force sensors 270. This gives the user the ability during set up to assign either a light or heavy touches to each of the areas of the chosen passcode. If the end user choses their passcode to contain six areas with four being light touches and two being heavy touches, it's a passcode that a hacker won't be able to easily access. The combinations are almost endless.
In RIM's patent FIG. 5 – we see a further type of force sensor 290, which comprises a force sensor in a continuous, serpentine pattern so as to ensure that the users chosen security patterns are captured accurately.
New Security Measures could apply to all BlackBerry Devices
RIM's latest invention relating to new security measure could apply to all future devices. In the patent figures noted above we see that the new security model will apply to handhelds and tablets alike.
An infinite number of applied force patterns may be developed by the end user when setting up their passcode. In this section RIM actually adds another measure which is varying lengths of time for each touch. And lastly, though it isn't discussed in the patent, the noted patent figures above actually illustrate that combination touches may be a future option. Adding yet another layer so sophistication to RIM's new security measures.
One of RIM's Security Feature Flowcharts
RIM's patent application was originally filed in Q4 2010 and published by the US Patent and Trademark Office last month.
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