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Wireless hardware immobiliser for high value mobile electronics

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000018801D
Original Publication Date: 2003-Aug-11
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Aug-11
Document File: 2 page(s) / 44K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

The following article describes a mechanism for providing security to mobile devices to discourage theft, using wireless technology and encrypted certificates.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
At least one non-text object (such as an image or picture) has been suppressed.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 52% of the total text.

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Wireless hardware immobiliser for high value mobile electronics

Increasingly high cost mobile electronics are getting smaller and better and wider in range. An average employee is likely to have a laptop and a mobile phone with options on digital cameras, mobile media devices (music and video) and PDA. With this increase in high value mobile devices there is little or no effective security. A laptop will doubtless have a power-on password and potentially a harddrive password which is no security at all to someone simply stealing the hardware for hardware's sake rather than to steal information. The security can be removed simply by removing the CMOS battery, and a new hard drive is a fractional cost. Mobile phones represent a reasonable security level, if the user has configured PIN's and locked the phone suitably. This of course requires that the user has taken the time to do so, and remembers the PINs. Similarly a PDA has some security mechanisms which can be effective though if stolen in an unlocked state are vulnerable. Other devices such as cameras or media devices have no security at all. Increasingly more technology and devices are become mobile meaning more targets for theft. Clearly current security measures are insufficient and increasingly corporations and users will demand better means to secure their property. What is required is a single unifying security measure that can be adopted by all devices, locking them to the user.

    There are two ways to avoid the theft of property. One is to make it difficult to steal. Clearly this is not going to be simple with devices designed to be lightweight, and mobile. The second means is to make it valueless without some other component. This is implemented in cars with an immobiliser. Whilst the car can be broken into, the car itself cannot be driven off because a device embedded in your key is required to be present before the engine will start. In this way a device in the car immobilises the engine for anyone attempting to use it without your key.

    Clearly mobile devices should not require a key. However, wireless technologies mean you could have a key-fob size device which communicates with each device at a hardware level to enable them. In the absence of the unique key signal from your security 'fob' the devices will not power-up. Some phones already have bluetooth embedded, the low cost of devices such as bluetooth headsets indicates that the cost of integrating a bluetooth security board into a mobile device is not prohibitive, and by allowing a standardised implementation, each one of a user's mobile devices can be locked to a single unique 'fob' .

    Although bluetooth is not necessarily the only way to implement this security, it does seem an obvious choice. Bluetooth hands-free kits would indicate that it would be easy to make something the size of a key fob capable of negotiating with a bluetooth device an...