The Trusted Computing Group with such members as AMD, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Sony, and Sun Microsystems are working on a framework by which they will make your system more “secure”.
I have to say, I’m highly skeptical of the true motives of trusted computing. According to their website
The Trusted Computing Group, or TCG, develops and promotes open specifications. Computing industry vendors use these specifications in products that protect and strengthen the computing platform against software-based attacks. In contrast, traditional security approaches have taken a “moat” approach and are software-based, making them vulnerable to malicious attacks, virtual or physical theft, and loss.Based on my research, security does not mean the same thing to us as it does to the TCG. When I think of security, I think my computer is protected from attack. I tell my computer what to do and it follows my instructions. I’m safe but in control. It appears that TCG thinks security and trust belong to them. They are secure from YOU. Their software and hardware can trust each other do what they want.
Systems and applications based on Trusted Computing Group specifications can:
- Store keys, digital certificates, passwords and data securely in hardware
- Enhance network security
- Protect online commerce transactions
- Help protect against viruses, worms and other malicious attacks
- Protect digital identities
- Provide authentication between systems and networks
- Allow for single sign-on to systems
- Enable digital signatures for financial and other transactions
- Support regulatory compliance for Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA and other federal requirements
It is clear why media companies are excited about this. You wont be able to copy media if they don’t what you to. I have to say that I’m not terribly excited about that. I copy movies and music that I own for my own benefit. Alright, I can see their point.
Some have suggested that Microsoft’s dog in this fight is China. Microsoft is content with their piracy for now but if they could force China, and others, to pay for their software well, that would mean BIG money. Bill Gates reportedly said,
Although about three million computers get sold every year in China, people don't pay for the software. Someday they will, though. And as long as they're going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.
Ok, I can understand that too. I think Microsoft charges entirely too much for their OS but perhaps if they could eradicate piracy, prices would go down? Regardless, I recognize their right to be paid.
I can't quite figure out why Sun, AMD and Intel are part of this. Is it pressure, fear of being left behind, money, or do they really believe in it? I'm not sure.
While there seems to be some interesting aspects of TC and some useful applications, I think TC ultimately puts the control in the hands of media and software companies, who would rather you not be able to do what you want with your computer. It seems to be a plan that is ripe for abuse. The day I can't control what my computer does, or my choices are limited to vendors that will force my computer to do what they want, instead of what I want, I think will be a sad day for computing.
Seth Schoen sums it up best I think.
We have at least two serious concerns about trusted computing. First, existing designs are fundamentally flawed because they expose the public to new risks of anti-competitive and anti-consumer behavior. Second, manufacturers of particular "trusted" computers and components may secretly implement them incorrectly.For further reading checkout Can you trust your computer? by Richard Stallman, Trusted Computing' Frequently Asked Questions, and a more balanced look Trusted Computing: Promise and Risk By Seth Schoen
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