Apple patent filing: Password recovery via power cables

Apple is proposing to store password recovery secrets into peripherals and build a system where peripherals like power cords communicate directly with the computing device.

Apple has designed a way to store password recovery details in memory modules that will ship with peripherals, including power cords.

According to a patent application, Apple is proposing to store password recovery secrets into peripherals and build a system where peripherals like power cords communicate directly with the computing device.

The patent filing was first reported by NewScientist:

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The technology is predicated on the fact that when you lose a laptop, or have it stolen, you don't tend to lose the power adapter as well. So it makes the power adapter a critical part of the recovery routine for forgotten passwords.

In US patent filing 2012/0005747 Apple proposes a power adapter whose transformer unit has a small memory module built into it. This stores either an encrypted password (or recovery question) whose key is stored on the laptop or smartphone. This way only the correct computer or phone can access the recovery data. For added security, part of the encrypted password could reside on a network server, too.

There's a clear need for this, says Apple: "If the password is not easily and conveniently recoverable, the consumer is likely to choose either not to use a password at all or to use a trivial password. Both choices increase the threat of data loss," it says in the patent.

The full patent application can be found here: Patent # US 2012/0005747.

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