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Apple's 'Safe Deposit Box' could offer file security with cloud backup

post #1 of 43
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Apple has shown interest in building a secure folder into its Mac OS X operating system which would allow users to safely save important files and documents, and also securely access them on the go.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently revealed Apple's application entitled "File Management Safe Deposit Box." In the company's proposed invention, the deposit box would be reside on a user's computer, and would verify their identity before the contents can be accessed.

Apple's application notes that users typically have files of varying importance and secrecy on their computers. In addition, users often want to have additional copies of important files to ensure they will not be lost if their computer is stolen or damaged.

"While various backup programs and encryption software suites are available to users, these are often cumbersome and time consuming for a user to set up," the application reads.

The proposed solution would be a "Safe Deposit Box" built into Mac OS X, allowing users to simply drag and drop a file onto the deposit box icon. Doing so would securely store and save the file. Users could also allow access to files for a short period of time, minimizing the risk of an unauthorized user gaining access.



The feature would go one step further, and automatically generate a copy of the file and save it to the cloud, preventing the risk of file loss. In addition to being automatically generated, these copies of files would also be secured, preventing access from unauthorized users.



Apple's explanation of the feature describes an interface that would mimic a physical safe deposit box at a bank, a personal safe, or some other way that users secure important belongings in real life.

The patent application recently made public by the USPTO was first filed by Apple in August of 2009. The proposed invention is credited to Duncan Robert Kerr and David R. Falkenburg.
post #2 of 43
Doesn't this already exist? It's called DropBox, and is pretty sweet.
post #3 of 43
I already do this with Dropbox. I created symlinks from all my home folders (Documents, Pictures, Music, Desktop, etc.) into my Dropbox and it keeps all my computers in sync, allows me to access my files from my iPhone, and from anyone else's computer via the web. I've recovered from hard drive failures with no sweat.

The only files I do not keep on there are replaceable (e.g. programs and movies)
post #4 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by aviator View Post

Doesn't this already exist? It's called DropBox, and is pretty sweet.

I do see your point but there is a lot of things already exist in some fashion but that doesnt mean Apple cant improve upon it which this patent seemingly indicates. There are usage issues with Dropbox that do make it confusing for the average person. Things that Dropbox is probably aware of but cant circumvent without completely rewriting Mac OS X Finder and Windows Explorer to suit their specific needs.

That said, I am surprised this is the 2nd article Ive read on this patent that seems to go out of its way to not draw a comparison to Dropbox, which is far and away the most Mac-like experience in moving files between machines.

Note that Apple has been using the same basic foundation Dropbox is designed off of for years with their Time Machine/Time Capsule sparse bundles which allow for the same kind of banded data file syncing that makes Dropbox so great.
post #5 of 43
seemless--integrated--ecosystem

its got to work for my mom, i can geek it out but the average person doesn't even backup
i talked to a friend about the power of having a bootable clone backup (which has just rescued my wifes mb c2d white) and he just stares at me
there is a lot of room for all those newbies to apple, the average joe, joanne, doens't get it
but if the interface is slick smooth, seemless, and brainless like importing cd's to itunes and synching well it will work
describe your use of dropbox to the avg apple user and what do you get??
there is a better way

and by the way, do ssd like in the air "fail" or ever need replaceing??
my new hitachi i put in 3 months ago in my wife's mb crashed and thinking of upgrading her mb this summer with mba
your thoughts
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post #6 of 43
"Secure Remote" is an oxymoron. As soon as your most valuable data is on a remote server, people unknown to you (administrators, government) have access to it.
post #7 of 43
And how much will they be charging for this services?
post #8 of 43
Safe deposit box is an important analogy because people only put their most valuable things in one of those, so people won't try and dump half their hard drive in it and overload Apple's servers. It also allows them to have a small quota and possibly therefore make it free.
post #9 of 43
This is a wonderful idea. I use dropbox for stuff I wouldn't be concerned about if someone got access to, but I'm not confident enough to use it for something like my multi-page listing of user names and passwords for the dozens of sites I visit. I would definitely trust Apple's lock box for things like this. And being able to access it from another computer away from home would be icing on the cake. Can't wait for this!
post #10 of 43
I wonder just how secure it will really be. Apple needs to tread carefully here -- if they sell this as being "secure", then it had better darn well really be secure, both in the sense of strong encryption and in the sense of physical backups in the event of disaster (ie, Apple can't keep files only in one building in NC -- they need to have multiple, geographically diverse, backups)
post #11 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

I wonder just how secure it will really be. Apple needs to tread carefully here -- if they sell this as being "secure", then it had better darn well really be secure, both in the sense of strong encryption and in the sense of physical backups in the event of disaster (ie, Apple can't keep files only in one building in NC -- they need to have multiple, geographically diverse, backups)

what are the odds of losing your machine(s) and an Enterprise data center at the same moment?

strong encryption and geographical diversity are trivial.. getting users to use a good password is the weakest link in the chain.
post #12 of 43
I thinks it's funny several are posting about "this already exists". The last time I checked, there were smartphones before 2007 and tablets before April 2010. That didn't stop Apple from walking in and changing both of those industries.
post #13 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post

"Secure Remote" is an oxymoron. As soon as your most valuable data is on a remote server, people unknown to you (administrators, government) have access to it.

They may have access to files, but if files are encrypted (which they will be), they can't read them without an encryption key (which only you would have).
post #14 of 43
I love apple, but this is not an "invention". Such systems have existed for years now. I could do the same thing today with an encrypted disk image and dropbox.
post #15 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post

"Secure Remote" is an oxymoron. As soon as your most valuable data is on a remote server, people unknown to you (administrators, government) have access to it.

in one sense you're right...
in one sense you're wrong...

secure in this context suggests protection against loss due to physical loss. your time machine backup is useless if your house burns down. offiste backup is way better than local.

by the same token, your important dead trees are gone if the bank with physical boxes burns.

if Apple uses AES-256 for this (the same thing they use for filevault).. I'd say you're safe in terms of physical security (fire or other loss) and unauthorized eyes viewing your docs.
post #16 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by GotWake View Post

I thinks it's funny several are posting about "this already exists". The last time I checked, there were smartphones before 2007 and tablets before April 2010. That didn't stop Apple from walking in and changing both of those industries.

Yes, but you don't see apple trying to take credit for inventing the phone industry.
post #17 of 43
If you read the whole patent application, it even describes a creaking sound that the lockbox door will make when it swings open and a loud clunk with the sound of tumblers spinning when the door closes.

Sweet.
post #18 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by GotWake View Post

I thinks it's funny several are posting about "this already exists". The last time I checked, there were smartphones before 2007 and tablets before April 2010. That didn't stop Apple from walking in and changing both of those industries.

Apple seem to be becoming a bit of a Not Invented Here company - something which harmed them back in the day. They would be better off buying DropBox and using the clearly brilliant engineers there and this patent holder can add encryption.

The "can be bought out" attitude actually encourages developers. I know of many a startup - even university funded startups - which build their exit strategies around Google buyouts - not IPOs

Needless tosay they stick with Android.
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post #19 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post

"Secure Remote" is an oxymoron. As soon as your most valuable data is on a remote server, people unknown to you (administrators, government) have access to it.

Physically, yes. Legally, no. No government agency would be allowed access to it without the same warrant they'd need to search your home comupter.
post #20 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple has shown interest in building a secure folder into its Mac OS X operating system which would allow users to safely save important files and documents, and also securely access them on the go ...

It sounds just like a secure version of the current iDisk though, which is far too slow to be useful for most users at the moment.

If I throw a file into a synced iDisk now, it takes hours sometimes to upload to the cloud and be available on my other devices. Everyone else I know (in my country) has the same problem.

iDisk and MobileMe might be fast for those of you living in California USA, but it's a giant suckage for many others. (and yes, I have high-speed broadband and live in a giant city with all mod-cons, etc.)
post #21 of 43
this would fit quite well with an integrated mobile payment system..
post #22 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

It sounds just like a secure version of the current iDisk though, which is far too slow to be useful for most users at the moment.

If I throw a file into a synced iDisk now, it takes hours sometimes to upload to the cloud and be available on my other devices. Everyone else I know (in my country) has the same problem.

iDisk and MobileMe might be fast for those of you living in California USA, but it's a giant suckage for many others. (and yes, I have high-speed broadband and live in a giant city with all mod-cons, etc.)

Its slow anywhere - the problem is their servers and webdav.
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post #23 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbarriault View Post

Physically, yes. Legally, no. No government agency would be allowed access to it without the same warrant they'd need to search your home comupter.

Not true.

If the server is in the USA, then Homeland security has access. They don't need a warrant, and the reality of this has been established many times over the last few years.

In the USA, internet watches you!
post #24 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by uncertain View Post

This is a wonderful idea. I use dropbox for stuff I wouldn't be concerned about if someone got access to, but I'm not confident enough to use it for something like my multi-page listing of user names and passwords for the dozens of sites I visit. I would definitely trust Apple's lock box for things like this. And being able to access it from another computer away from home would be icing on the cake. Can't wait for this!

I don't see why you shouldn't trust DropBox. They use Amazon Cloud Storage for their online hosting platform (very reliable), encrypt each file with 256-bit encryption so that their own employees cannot read them, and also encrypt session traffic to their servers with SSL.
It's also cross-platform, which is highly useful to me since I have Macs at home and Windows boxes at work.

For me the difference will be the amount of storage you get. Dropbox gives you 2GB for free, 50GB for $10 a month and 100GB for $20 a month. Apple's pricing will be what I will be watching.
post #25 of 43
Just buy DropBox already... And Make It Mac-Only!
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post #26 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Not true.

If the server is in the USA, then Homeland security has access. They don't need a warrant, and the reality of this has been established many times over the last few years.

In the USA, internet watches you!

As long as your files are actually encrypted then this should not be a problem for anyone. Even with access to the files themselves, government types would be hard-pressed to decrypt 256-bit AES-encrypted files any time soon. It's the same encryption they mandate for their own sensitive information.
post #27 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by uncertain View Post

This is a wonderful idea. I use dropbox for stuff I wouldn't be concerned about if someone got access to, but I'm not confident enough to use it for something like my multi-page listing of user names and passwords for the dozens of sites I visit. I would definitely trust Apple's lock box for things like this. And being able to access it from another computer away from home would be icing on the cake. Can't wait for this!

Multipage listing of usernames and passwords? Try 1password.
post #28 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by NOFEER View Post

seemless--integrated--ecosystem

its got to work for my mom, i can geek it out but the average person doesn't even backup...

Agreed, Nofeer. This is the main reason for Apple doing it. A "safe" icon on your desktop says it all. I think it is a brilliant idea lost on the more tech savvy people on these boards!

It's not the biggest innovation Apple has ever done but like the momentary display of the what you are typing when putting in a password on your iphone, it is brilliant and helpful!

Best
post #29 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by milkmage View Post

what are the odds of losing your machine(s) and an Enterprise data center at the same moment?

strong encryption and geographical diversity are trivial.. getting users to use a good password is the weakest link in the chain.

It's not trivial from Apple's point of view, because those are the things they will be held responsible for. While losing their data center is a low probability event, the consequences would be horrible for them PR-wise. Sure, the *proportion* of people who lose their data at the same time that Apple's data center bites the dust might be small, but the absolute *number* could be large enough to result in a very damaging wave of complaints.
post #30 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post

Apple seem to be becoming a bit of a Not Invented Here company - something which harmed them back in the day. They would be better off buying DropBox and using the clearly brilliant engineers there and this patent holder can add encryption.

The "can be bought out" attitude actually encourages developers. I know of many a startup - even university funded startups - which build their exit strategies around Google buyouts - not IPOs

Needless tosay they stick with Android.

I think you're way, way off the mark here. Frankly, I think Apple is the exact opposite of what you describe.

Apple buys out little firms all the time. It's their preferred form of acquisition. They might not make a big deal about it, but they do it. And, in fact, that's how they acquired many of their critical technologies today, including iTunes, their on-line store, many of their pro apps, the A4, and OS X itself.
post #31 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

I think you're way, way off the mark here. Frankly, I think Apple is the exact opposite of what you describe.

Apple buys out little firms all the time. It's their preferred form of acquisition. They might not make a big deal about it, but they do it. And, in fact, that's how they acquired many of their critical technologies today, including iTunes, their on-line store, many of their pro apps, the A4, and OS X itself.

Next? That's going back 16 years.

In reality they buy very little relative to their cash reserves. No need to go mad, but no need to compete with dropbox.
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post #32 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by milkmage View Post

what are the odds of losing your machine(s) and an Enterprise data center at the same moment?

strong encryption and geographical diversity are trivial.. getting users to use a good password is the weakest link in the chain.

So I guess I shouldn't buy the house I was looking at right next door to apple's new data center.
post #33 of 43
I like how Patently Apple got zero recognition for bringing this to your attention.
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post #34 of 43
Sounds just like drop box. I use it all of the time. I can't see how this could be a patent...
post #35 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post

"Secure Remote" is an oxymoron. As soon as your most valuable data is on a remote server, people unknown to you (administrators, government) have access to it.

For the average user (they can't even spell backup) it's their photos and mp3's and a few docs the write for school work etc. No one is interested but the owner...really.

You're not the target for backup solutions like this.
post #36 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post

Next? That's going back 16 years.

In reality they buy very little relative to their cash reserves. No need to go mad, but no need to compete with dropbox.

Next was only one example that I listed (talk about manipulative, selective quoting!), but is illustrative that the modern apple is arguably founded on getting new tech from small acquisitions.

A few more recent acquisitions include Quattro Wireless (now iAds), PA Semi (ultimate product as yet unclear), Intrinsity (A4), and La la (ultimate product as yet unclear).

Also, Apple's recent axing of their server lineup and usage of non-Apple hardware for data centers, is more evidence that the modern Apple is about as far from NIH syndrome as you can get.
post #37 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

Next was only one example that I listed (talk about manipulative, selective quoting!), but is illustrative that the modern apple is arguably founded on getting new tech from small acquisitions.

A few more recent acquisitions include Quattro Wireless (now iAds), PA Semi (ultimate product as yet unclear), Intrinsity (A4), and La la (ultimate product as yet unclear).

Also, Apple's recent axing of their server lineup and usage of non-Apple hardware for data centers, is more evidence that the modern Apple is about as far from NIH syndrome as you can get.

So 4 then, and thats all I know too. This is pretty much off-topic, but Google buy lots more than that in any given year and probably in any given month. Also modern Apple didnt buy NEXT, old Apple bought NEXT.

And ar we sure about the use of non-Apple hardware in data centres?

Lets just say Apple should buy dropbox - dropbox is very very good and massively better than iDisk, the costs of doing things yourself can add up.
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post #38 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by milkmage View Post

what are the odds of losing your machine(s) and an Enterprise data center at the same moment?

My odds?

A 100 million times less than the odds of it happening to somebody across the entire iOS network.
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post #39 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post

Apple seem to be becoming a bit of a Not Invented Here company - something which harmed them back in the day. They would be better off buying DropBox and using the clearly brilliant engineers there and this patent holder can add encryption.

The "can be bought out" attitude actually encourages developers. I know of many a startup - even university funded startups - which build their exit strategies around Google buyouts - not IPOs

Needless tosay they stick with Android.

You say Apple is becoming a "bit of a Not Invented Here company". Then you suggest they should buy DropBox instead of developing from the ground up. I like your logic
post #40 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by GotWake View Post

You say Apple is becoming a "bit of a Not Invented Here company". Then you suggest they should buy DropBox instead of developing from the ground up. I like your logic

The laugh is on you.
NIH refers to someone who won't use anything NIH. (This applies equally well to The NIH.)
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