Apple has a new patent out (via AppleInsider) that describes a method for locking a device or asking a user for proof of their identity if the device detects a pattern of unusual behavior. It’s a security method that goes beyond the standard pins and passwords, letting your phone pick up on cues like your specific grammar habits, vocabulary, motion sensor information and particular gesture entry style to build a profile of who you are as a mobile device user. Any deviation from that established pattern will then prompt the phone to take action.
What type of action the device takes could vary, but the patent suggests everything from prompting a user to enter their iTunes password, to asking them for a renewed Touch ID fingerprint verification, to showing a notification to an alternate device to let them know that something’s up with the device suspected of being used in a different way than normal. This could alert users to suspected theft of devices, of course, but the patent also shows how it could tell a care worker when an elderly device owner starts exhibiting unusual behavior or stops using their device.
The system could also theoretically integrate with Apple’s existing anti-theft software features, allowing users to remotely wipe or lock a device that has been found to have been operated by someone other than its owners.
This new patent sounds like it could help push Apple’s agenda even further with regards to preventing device and data theft; the introduction of its iCloud-based activation lock in iOS 7 has reportedly decreased the rates of theft on iOS devices already. A behavior-based lockout is also a logical fit for protecting the kind of sensitive data often found on enterprise mobile devices. Of course, as with all patents, this is no guarantee we’ll ever see it actually released in shipping products, but it does seem a logical future direction for mobile device security.