A new Microsoft patent describes an enhanced NFC system that benefits from increased security thanks to an encoded hidden key, which should essentially block man-in-the-middle attacks and protect devices from eavesdroppers.

The new patent, which is titled “Secure near field communications,” was filed in January 2017, but was published on January 30, 2018, as reported by LetsGoDigital (via WL).

It’s believed such technology could be used on Microsoft’s upcoming mobile device referred to by many as Surface Phone, but which might in the end be a Courier-like product supporting several form factors.

New mobile device launching this year?

Microsoft explains in the patent that its more secure NFC system relies on a hidden key that’s randomly generated before the data transfer and them discarded completely. Microsoft states:

“The passively communicating device encodes its data onto the carrier oblivious to the modulation, and the actively communicating device maintains a cache of the modulations so that their effect on the communications from the passively communicating device can be removed by the actively communicating device.

The actively communicating device receives data from the passively communicating device that is interpretable by the actively communicating device, but eavesdropping devices receive a signal that is scrambled and uninterpretable. The actively communicating device privately maintains the hidden key used to modulate the carrier, and may discard the key as the signal is interpreted to forgo the possibility that an eavesdropped may recover the hidden key and thereby interpret intercepted messages. Examples are implemented as a computer process, a computing system, or as an article of manufacture.”

Recent speculation indicated that Microsoft could take the wraps off its next mobile device as soon as this year, as it’s believed the company wants to install an early version of Windows Polaris that would be entirely limited to the Microsoft Store.

In a future version launching this year, Windows Polaris could also unlock Win32 software virtualization, letting users run legacy apps with the power of cloud.