Trusted Computing

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Trusted Computing (TC) is a technology developed and promoted by the Trusted Computing Group.[1] The term is taken from the field of trusted systems and has a specialized meaning. With Trusted Computing, the computer will consistently behave in expected ways, and those behaviors will be enforced by hardware and software.[1] In practice, Trusted Computing uses cryptography to help enforce a selected behavior. The main functionality of TC is to allow someone else to verify that only authorized code runs on a system. This authorization covers initial booting and kernel and may also cover applications and various scripts. Just by itself TC does not protect against attacks that exploit security vulnerabilities introduced by programming bugs.

TC is controversial because it is technically possible not just to secure the hardware for its owner, but also to secure against its owner. Such controversy has led opponents of trusted computing, such as Richard Stallman, to refer to it instead as treacherous computing, even to the point where some scholarly articles have begun to place scare quotes around "trusted computing".[2][3]

The trusted computing platform need not be used to secure the system against the owner. It is possible to leave to the owner rights of authorization and have no centralized authority. It is also possible to build open source stack of trusted modules, leaving for the security chip only the task to guard against unauthorized modifications. Open source Linux drivers exist [4] to access and use the trusted computing chip. However, uncooperative operating systems can misuse security features to prevent legitimate data exchange.

Trusted Computing proponents such as International Data Corporation,[5] the Enterprise Strategy Group[6] and Endpoint Technologies Associates[7] claim the technology will make computers safer, less prone to viruses and malware, and thus more reliable from an end-user perspective. In addition, they also claim that Trusted Computing will allow computers and servers to offer improved computer security over that which is currently available. Opponents often claim this technology will be used primarily to enforce digital rights management policies and not to increase computer security.[8][9]:23

Chip manufacturers Intel and AMD, hardware manufacturers such as Dell, and operating system providers such as Microsoft all plan to include Trusted Computing into coming generations of products.[10][11]a[›] The U.S. Army requires that every new small PC it purchases must come with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM).[12][13] As of July 3, 2007, so does virtually the entire United States Department of Defense.[14]

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