Apr 10, 2006

IBM joins the hardware encryption club

Let us face it. The world we live in is not a very secure one. You are not safe, nor is your precious data. Everyone, from multinational corporations to ordinary citizens doing their banking on the Net is paranoid when it comes to data security. And maybe it is this paranoia that is getting the big computer makers out there to build more and more hardware with built-in security. Soon after Intel's announcement of LaGrande technology that integrates encryption into the central processing functions, IBM is following suit with its SecureBlue system.

According to CNN, IBM researchers are of the opinion that as long as the CPU, essentially the brain of the computer and the encryption engine are two different systems, hackers can get in between the two and cause enough harm or steal whatever data he needs. Intel's implementation uses something known as a Trust Platform Module (TPM) and Apple's new Intel-based PCs are rumoured to carry these (Read more).

Hardware security, then again, is only as good as the chip designers have made it. Unlike software which can be upgraded for bug fixes or updated to include more features and tighter security, hardware implementation is something only the designers know about and is essentially a black box. If we believe that it is truly secure, our security is only as strong as that belief.

One interesting point noted in the article is the comment of Bruce Schneier, founder of Counterpane Internet Security Inc., on the new security system: "Security is a chain and it's as strong as its weakest link. They're talking about taking a very strong link and making it a little bit stronger, at best. Maybe."

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