This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/219,062 which was filed Jun. 22, 2009 and which is fully incorporated herein by reference.BACKGROUND
1. Field of the Invention
The field of the present invention is systems and methods for securely sending a digital document between computing devices.
2. Description of the Related Art
As electronic commerce and communications become ever more prevalent within society, it is becoming increasingly important that electronic communications are not only secure, but also that they are received and made available only to the intended recipient. To a great extent, encryption technologies, whether public-private key encryption and symmetric key encryption, have enabled secure communications. However, while these encryption technologies aid in ensuring that the communication is secure during transit, neither is very capable of verifying that the actual recipient is decrypting the communication. Essentially, anyone who possesses the encryption key is capable of decrypting the communication. Increasing the likelihood that it is the recipient who decrypts the message, and not an unwanted third party, is therefore desirable.SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention is directed toward a system and method for securing an electronic communication. The electronic communication is sent from a first computing device to a second computing device, and through interactions with a gateway server, the first computing device obtains an encryption key which is used to encrypt the electronic communication. The second computing device, upon receipt of the encrypted electronic communication, decrypts the encrypted electronic communication.
In a first separate aspect of the present invention, with respect to the system, the gateway server receives and stores a device identifier and a network address from the first computing device. The device identifier identifies and the network address is associated with the first computing device. Thereafter, when the gateway server receives a request for an encryption key, along with the network address of the first computing device, from a second computing device, the gateway server derives the encryption key from the device identifier for the first computing device. The generated encryption key is then sent to the second computing device, which may use the encryption key to secure an electronic communication with the first computing device.
In a second separate aspect of the present invention, building upon the first separate aspect, the gateway server may give confirmation to the first computing device, upon request therefrom, that the encryption key was provided to the second computing device.
In a third separate aspect of the present invention, building upon the first separate aspect, the encryption key sent to the second computing device may be a public encryption key, and the first computing device may decrypt the encrypted electronic communication by deriving the private encryption key from the device identifier previously sent to the gateway server. Alternatively, the two encryption keys may be the same.
In a fourth separate aspect of the present invention, with respect to the method, the gateway server receives and stores a device identifier and a network address from a first computing device. The device identifier identifies and the network address is associated with the first computing device. The gateway server receives from a second computing device the network address of the first computing device along with a request for an encryption key. In response, the gateway server derives the encryption key from the device identifier for the first computing device and sends the encryption key to the second computing device. Thereafter, the second computing device may use the encryption key to secure an electronic communication with the first computing device.
In a fifth separate aspect of the present invention, any of the foregoing aspects may be employed in combination. Aspects indicated for the system may be incorporated into the method, just as aspects indicated for the method may be incorporated into the system.
Accordingly, an improved system and method for securing an electronic communication are disclosed. Advantages of the improvements will appear from the drawings and the description of the preferred embodiment.BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
In the drawings, wherein like reference numerals refer to similar components:
Turning in detail to the drawings,
Both computers 101, 103 may communicate over the network 105 with at least each other and a gateway server 107, which is also communicably connected to the network 107. When not communicating in a manner as disclosed herein, such communications may be in the clear or secured through any desired encryption technique. The communication links between the network, on the one hand, and the computers 101, 103 and the gateway server 107, on the other hand, may take any form desired. For example, any of the communication links may be established through intermediaries such as a private communications network or over a public communications network, the Internet being an example of the latter. Alternatively, a private communications network, a public communications network, or any combination of one or more of such networks may form the network 105. Also, any of the communication links may be established directly or indirectly, permanent or transitory, wired or wireless. In some instances, the communication links may be established as needed.
To achieve a secure communication between the two computers 101, 103, at least one of the two, the one to receive the secure communication, communicates with the server 107 to provide information that enables the secure communication. The information provided to the server includes the network address associated with and a device identifier for the receiving computer. The server 107 receives the information and stores it within the database 109 for later access as needed. The database 109 may reside on the server 107, or it may reside on another computing device that is communicatively connected with the server 107. With such a system, the database becomes populated with network addresses and device identifiers for as many computing devices as may be on a particular network, or as may desire to take advantage of the ability to send and receive secure communications as discussed herein.
The network address may be any identifier by which the receiving computer is represented on the network. The network address may also be any combination of information sufficient to represent or identify the receiving computer on the network, depending upon the type of network connecting the computers. The type of information used and or needed as the network address will depend upon the type of network connecting the two computers. For example, the network address may be any one or more of an email address, an Internet Protocol (IP) address, and/or a Media Access Control (MAC) address. For certain wide area networks (WANs), an email address or MAC address may be sufficient to identify the receiving computer on the network. For other types of WANs, a combination of an email address and a MAC address may be sufficient. As another example, when the network is viewed as the Internet, an IP address may be sufficient.
An application is included on each computer 103, 105 to collect information about each respective computing device and to generate the device identifier for each computer 103, 105. This application may be incorporated as a function or routine as part of another application, or as part of the operating system, to be called upon and run as needed. The application checks and gathers a number of parameters which, collectively, are expected to uniquely identify the individual computing devices. The parameters checked may include, for example, hard disk volume name, user name, device name, user password, hard disk initialization date, etc. The collected information includes information that identifies the hardware on which the application is used, such as, for example, CPU number, or unique parameters associated with the firmware in use. The system information may further include system configuration information, such as amount of memory, type of processor, software or operating system serial number, etc. The parameters checked may also include, alternatively or in addition, virtual machine specifications. Examples of virtual machine specifications include, but are not limited to, information relating to virtual processors, virtual BIOS, virtual memory, virtual graphics, virtual IDE drives, virtual SCSI devices, virtual PCI slots, virtual floppy drives, virtual serial (COM) ports, virtual parallel (LPT) ports, virtual keyboard, virtual mouse and drawing tablets, virtual Ethernet card, virtual networking, virtual sound adapter, etc.
Based on the information collected from the computing device, the application generates a device identifier that uniquely identifies the user's computer. The device identifier may be stored in a hidden directory of the device, and/or it may be generated each time prior to the occurrence of a data transmission, or at any other desired time. The device identifier, by virtue of the application being used on the computing device or otherwise having access to the computing device's hardware and file system, is generated by a process which operates on data indicative of the computing device's configuration and hardware.
The device identifier may be generated using a combination of user-configurable and non-user-configurable machine parameters as input to a process that results in the device identifier, which may be expressed in digital data as a binary number. Each machine parameter is data determined by a hardware component, software component, or data component specific to the device that the unique identifier pertains to. Machine parameters may be selected based on the target device system configuration such that the resulting device identifier has a very high probability (e.g., greater than 99.999%) of being unique to the target device. In addition, the machine parameters may be selected such that the device identifier includes at least a stable unique portion up to and including the entire identifier, that has a very high probability of remaining unchanged during normal operation of the target device. Thus, the resulting device identifier should be highly specific, unique, reproducible and stable as a result of properly selecting the machine parameters.
The application that generates the device identifier may also operate on the collected parameters with one or more algorithms to generate the device identifier. This process may include at least one irreversible transformation, such as, for example, a cryptographic hash function, such that the input machine parameters cannot be derived from the resulting device identifier. Each device identifier, to a very high degree of certainty, cannot be generated except by the suitably configured device identifier application operating or otherwise having had access to the same computing device for which the device identifier was first generated. Conversely, each identifier, again to a very high degree of certainty, can be successfully reproduced by the suitably configured device identifier application operating or otherwise having access to the same computing device on which the identifier was first generated.
The device identifier application may operate by performing a system scan to determine a present configuration of the computing device. The application may then select the machine parameters to be used as input for generating the unique device identifier. Selection of parameters may vary depending on the system configuration. Once the parameters are selected, the application may generate the identifier.
Further, generating the device identifier may also be described as generating a device fingerprint and may entail the sampling of physical, non-user configurable properties as well as a variety of additional parameters such as uniquely generated hashes and time sensitive values. Physical device parameters available for sampling may include, for example, unique manufacturer characteristics, carbon and silicone degradation and small device failures.
The process of measuring carbon and silicone degradation may be accomplished by measuring a chip's ability to process complex mathematical computations, and its ability to respond to intensive time variable computations. These processes measure how fast electricity travels through the carbon. Using variable offsets to compensate for factors such as heat and additional stresses placed on a chip during the sampling process allows for each and every benchmark to reproduce the expected values. During a standard operating lifetime, the process of passing electricity through the various switches causes a computer chip to degrade. These degradations manifest as gradually slower speeds that extend the processing time required to compute various benchmarking algorithms.
In addition to the chip benchmarking and degradation measurements, the process for generating a device identifier may include measuring physical, non-user-configurable characteristics of disk drives and solid state memory devices. Each data storage device has a large variety of damage and unusable data sectors that are nearly unique to each physical unit. The ability to measure and compare values for damaged sectors and data storage failures provides a method for identifying storage devices.
Device parameter sampling, damage measurement and chip benchmarking make up just a part of device fingerprinting technologies described herein. These tools may be further extended by the use of complex encryption algorithms to convolute the device identifier values during transmission and comparisons. Such encryption processes may be used in conjunction with random sampling and key generations.
The device identifier may be generated by utilizing machine parameters associated with one or more of the following: machine model; machine serial number; machine copyright; machine ROM version; machine bus speed; machine details; machine manufacturer; machine ROM release date; machine ROM size; machine UUID; and machine service tag.
The device identifier may also be generated by utilizing machine parameters associated with one or more of the following: CPU ID; CPU model; CPU details; CPU actual speed; CPU family; CPU manufacturer; CPU voltage; and CPU external clock.
The device identifier may also be generated by utilizing machine parameters associated with one or more of the following: memory model; memory slots; memory total; and memory details.
The device identifier may also be generated by utilizing machine parameters associated with one or more of the following: video model; video details; display model; display details; audio model; and audio details.
The device identifier may also be generated by utilizing machine parameters associated with one or more of the following: network model; network address; Bluetooth address; BlackBox model; BlackBox serial; BlackBox details; BlackBox damage map; BlackBox volume name; NetStore details; and NetStore volume name.
The device identifier may also be generated by utilizing machine parameters associated with one or more of the following: optical model; optical serial; optical details; keyboard model; keyboard details; mouse model; mouse details; printer details; and scanner details.
The device identifier may also be generated by utilizing machine parameters associated with one or more of the following: baseboard manufacturer; baseboard product name; baseboard version; baseboard serial number; and baseboard asset tag.
The device identifier may also be generated by utilizing machine parameters associated with one or more of the following: chassis manufacturer; chassis type; chassis version; and chassis serial number.
The device identifier may also be generated by utilizing machine parameters associated with one or more of the following: IDE controller; SATA controller; RAID controller; and SCSI controller.
The device identifier may also be generated by utilizing machine parameters associated with one or more of the following: port connector designator; port connector type; port connector port type; and system slot type.
The device identifier may also be generated by utilizing machine parameters associated with one or more of the following: cache level; cache size; cache max size; cache SRAM type; and cache error correction type.
The device identifier may also be generated by utilizing machine parameters associated with one or more of the following: fan; PCMCIA; modem; portable battery; tape drive; USB controller; and USB hub.
The device identifier may also be generated by utilizing machine parameters associated with one or more of the following: device model; device model IMEI; device model IMSI; and device model LCD.
The device identifier may also be generated by utilizing machine parameters associated with one or more of the following: wireless 802.11; webcam; game controller; silicone serial; and PCI controller.
In one example, the device identifier may also be generated by utilizing machine parameters associated with one or more of the following: machine model, processor model, processor details, processor speed, memory model, memory total, network model of each Ethernet interface, network MAC address of each Ethernet interface, BlackBox Model, BlackBox Serial (e.g., using Dallas Silicone Serial DS-2401 chipset or the like), OS install date, nonce value, and nonce time of day.
Thus, a system and method for securing an electronic communication are disclosed. While embodiments of this invention have been shown and described, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that many more modifications are possible without departing from the inventive concepts herein. The invention, therefore, is not to be restricted except in the spirit of the following claims.
As used in this application, the terms “component,” “module,” “system,” and the like are intended to refer to a computer-related entity, either hardware, firmware, a combination of hardware and software, software, or software in execution. For example, a component can be, but is not limited to being, a process running on a processor, a processor, an object, an executable, a thread of execution, a program, and/or a computer. By way of illustration, both an application running on a computing device and the computing device can be a component. One or more components can reside within a process and/or thread of execution and a component can be localized on one computer and/or distributed between two or more computers. In addition, these components can execute from various computer readable media having various data structures stored thereon. The components can communicate by way of local and/or remote processes such as in accordance with a signal having one or more data packets (e.g., data from one component interacting with another component in a local system, distributed system, and/or across a network such as the Internet with other systems by way of the signal).
It is understood that the specific order or hierarchy of steps in the processes disclosed herein in an example of exemplary approaches. Based upon design preferences, it is understood that the specific order or hierarchy of steps in the processes may be rearranged while remaining within the scope of the present disclosure. The accompanying method claims present elements of the various steps in sample order, and are not meant to be limited to the specific order or hierarchy presented.
Moreover, various aspects or features described herein can be implemented as a method, apparatus, or article of manufacture using standard programming and/or engineering techniques. The term “article of manufacture” as used herein is intended to encompass a computer program accessible from any computer-readable device, carrier, or media. For example, computer-readable media can include but are not limited to magnetic storage devices (e.g., hard disk, floppy disk, magnetic strips, etc.), optical discs (e.g., compact disc (CD), digital versatile disc (DVD), etc.), smart cards, and flash memory devices (e.g., Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory (EPROM), card, stick, key drive, etc.). Additionally, various storage media described herein can represent one or more devices and/or other machine-readable media for storing information. The term “machine-readable medium” can include, without being limited to, wireless channels and various other media capable of storing, containing, and/or carrying instruction(s) and/or data.
Those skilled in the art will further appreciate that the various illustrative logical blocks, modules, circuits, methods and algorithms described in connection with the examples disclosed herein may be implemented as electronic hardware, computer software, or combinations of both. To clearly illustrate this interchangeability of hardware and software, various illustrative components, blocks, modules, circuits, methods and algorithms have been described above generally in terms of their functionality. Whether such functionality is implemented as hardware or software depends upon the particular application and design constraints imposed on the overall system. Skilled artisans may implement the described functionality in varying ways for each particular application, but such implementation decisions should not be interpreted as causing a departure from the scope of the present invention.