Microsoft security chip open to discussion

Microsoft Corp. would be prepared to license the intellectual property for its proposed Palladium security chip to any software manufacturer, but certification of that software would be essential if the system is to work, the company's U.K. chief security officer Stuart Okin said Wednesday.

"Last week, details of Palladium were leaked, or squirrelled out by a journalist," Okin said, speaking at Microsoft's Tech Ed conference here. "This is still at a consultation mode and we will issue white papers by the end of the month, and ask for feedback. So nothing is certain yet." Palladium is a security technology that would change the fundamental architecture of a PC, with a security chip installed to ensure security and control what software is run. "It's a combination of hardware and software, a security chip and a public and private key system," he said. "It's designed to guarantee privacy, and to guarantee that if you get rogue software on the machine it'll be moved to a vaulted environment where it can't affect the rest."

This sort of development is necessary if the Internet is to reach its full potential, he said.

"We want people transacting millions of dollars, millions of euros, over open systems, and for that to happen you have to be able to guarantee a source. And that takes a combination of hardware and software," Okin said.

While Palladium would be very powerful in terms of digital rights management, able to tell whether software is licensed, or digital files copied, "its prime function is to ensure security and privacy," he said.

For that to happen, a degree of software restriction is necessary, he said.

"We'll release white papers at the end of the month, and I'd ask people to wait until then, until we have a chance to get feedback. One thing I can guarantee is that it will be 'off' by default, an opt-in technology," he said. "It will live or die by user acceptance."

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Intel Corp. are working with Microsoft on the idea and have been "very supportive and interested," Okin said. "But there won't be hardware on the market until 2004, 2005, and it'll probably be another two years beyond that before applications are developed."

Okin's position was created four months ago as part of Microsoft's push to "Trustworthy Computing." He acknowledges that the first thing security managers say to him when they meet is "You've got a bad image on security."

"But then they acknowledge that, in fact, we're no better or worse than anyone else, and they are glad we're now talking to them and listening."

Okin disputes any suggestion that Microsoft has been slow to look at security. "It's a subject that's come to the fore recently. The U.K.'s National High Tech Crime Unit has only been running 18 months. The user community has altered enormously in two years -- it's not just 20-year-olds now -- and that's changed the focus. And then there have been viruses, and reports about security in the press. It's just become high profile now."

The U.K. now has about 15 people dedicated to improving Microsoft's security record, working with developers, vendors and customers, Okin said. Other European subsidiaries may follow suit, depending on their size, he said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gillian Law

Computerworld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?