Google Patents Location-Based Security Feature (GOOG)
Adapting device security to physical location is an idea whose time has come, at least for Google (NASDAQ: GOOG).
Engadget reported Thursday that the company had applied for a patent on a system that alters the security system on your smartphone and other devices to fit your surroundings.
If you are in a secure environment, such as home or work, a simple swipe-to-unlock will open your device. If you are away from a secure location, based on GPS coordinates, you may be required to enter a special code or password.
In theory, the system seems to take security to a new level, allowing users to gain access to their electronic devices easily when the coast is clear and making it tougher when the situation warrants.
In practice, the new feature is mostly about convenience, something TechCrunch said Google seems to be focusing on. Google Now and updates to Keep and other apps reinforce that notion.
According to TechCrunch, the patent provides for at least three levels of authentication. This would enables users, for example, to set one level of security at home, another at work, and yet another while traveling or shopping.
Security has become an important buzzword at Google following public debate about the company’s involvement in NSA ordered Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requests, something about which Google and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) have filed lawsuits according to GigaOM.
Closer to home there’s also the issue of password security with Google’s Chrome Web browser, which Justin Schuh, Google’s Chrome browser security tech lead, responded to by saying “…boundaries within the OS user account just aren't reliable, and are mostly just theater, “in a post on Hacker News. Schuh’s comments were not exactly “embraced” by critics.
Finally, Google’s much-anticipated Glass device, set to become widely available in 2014, has been the subject of considerable discussion regarding security and privacy issues for those being recorded. Most recently, InformationWeek reported on the extent to which Glass could represent a security risk for the U.S. Government.
Overall, anything Google can do to convince consumers it is doing all it can to provide security for their data as well as honor privacy and security concerns of those being monitored by Google or Google devices, is a good thing.
While Google’s new patent doesn’t create more security, it does make security more convenient. Google is likely betting that making the user experience easier and more flexible will go a long way toward mitigating recent security-based criticism on all fronts.
At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco had no position in any mentioned securities.
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