Apple patents power adapter that recalls forgotten passwords

“Imagine if you had a unique, physical key that could be used to unlock your Macbook whenever you forget the device’s password,” Andy Greenberg reports for Forbes.

“Now imagine that instead of another actual key that you’d have to store in a drawer or carry in your pocket, the key is an object that you’re already lugging around or leaving under your desk: Your power adapter,” Greenberg reports. “Apple has patented a power charger that also serves as a password backup, one that’s in some ways more convenient and secure than the typical security questions used to recover lost passwords.”

Greenberg reports, “According to the patent (first spotted by New Scientist) a forgetful user could simply plug in the cord, and it would provide a unique ID number stored in a memory chip in the adapter that acts as an decryption key, unscrambling a backup copy of the password stored on the machine.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Arline M.” for the heads up.]

16 Comments

  1. And if your Mac & power adapter are misplaced or stolen together, would the person who discovered it/stole it be able to log in, or did I miss something in what I read above?

    1. Patent doesn’t always mean this will show up. Likely, this is a really broad patent that covers anything else your mac could come with – one example would be the system install disk that your mac comes with (specifically the one that came with your mac).

      1. Precisely. Apple likes to keep their secrets until launch. Historically, seeing a patent application *before* any product announcement is almost complete assurance that feature won’t be used any time soon or at all.

    2. The original article makes note of the obvious weakness of this kind of “protection” and suggests that Apple may be implement this technology primarily for devices that people normally carry without the charger (e.g. iPad, MacBook Air, iPhone).

      1. true, but my sleeve/bag for my iPad has a sync cable in it..

        I have a back plastic cover and the smart cover on front, but I toss it in a cordura padded bag with a zipper pouch on the front.
        I toss in the sync cable, the hdmi out cable and the camera kit. Along with a cleaning cloth.

    3. So, obviously you would best utilize this by buying a second AC adaptor not specifically linked to your computer.

      Can you guess which one you should carry with you?

      1. I do.. My laptop bag has room for the MBP, charger, an external hd, and my os cd. If its in the bag, I know where it is. And if I need it when I’m 500 miles from home…. I have it.

  2. @MainMan and others: This would of course be an optional feature. If a person feels it’s not enough security, turn it off. Just like not keeping a spare key hidden near the house.

    Alternatively, for those who want both this feature and better security, travel with a standard adapter and keep the “magic” one stored away.

    Personally it would me much cheaper and convenient (for me) to get these for people like my parents and relatives who come to me when they’ve done something like forgotten a password.

  3. Well, it’s better than the OS DVD thing. More thieves would have access to those than would have the original power cord.

    I’d prefer adding a required security question with that Power Adapter solution though. Just for another layer to get through before gaining access to the passwords. Though a thief might not have your adapter, a co-worker, a significant other, or you kids easily could.

  4. If you have the patent you can sit on the idea and never use it. That keeps the competition from using it. More than likely this idea is part of a greater whole. We will have to wait and see.

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