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Wednesday, 11 September, 2002, 11:44 GMT 12:44 UK
Computer chips become security guards
Computer motherboard, Eyewire
The anti-piracy fight could be happening here
The chip inside your computer is being drafted into the fight against piracy and viruses.

Chip giant Intel has announced plans to beef up the security systems built-in to its processors to help people avoid attack by computer viruses and to help copyright owners police what people do with music and movies.

The security systems will debut in chips due to be released in 2003.

The move to improve security is part of the Palladium trusted computing initiative kicked off by Microsoft in June 2002.

Chip stop

As its name implies that initiative will create hardware and software that will only work together if they "trust" the other part of the system asking them to do something.

Trust will be guaranteed by digital certificates and other authentication systems and by the use of components from vetted sources.

Many have welcomed Palladium saying better efforts by companies such as Microsoft to protect consumers are long overdue.

Other critics have pointed out that the initiative potentially gives copyright owners sweeping controls over what people can do with the films, games and music they have bought.

The security systems built-in to the processors will complement the work that Microsoft and others are doing on secure software.

Intel released only a few details about the security systems but said they would keep an eye on what was happening within a PC to try to prevent malicious programs getting access to areas of data they should be locked out of.

Intel is planning to start building the security systems into its Prescott line of chips for desktop computers which are due to appear in late 2003.

The chip maker unveiled the strategy at its biannual developers conference at which it discusses future technologies with hardware and software creators.

This is not the first time that Intel has tried to tackle security with hardware. In 1999 itl announced plans to put a unique ID number in every chip to make it possible to find out which computer was doing what.

But protests by privacy groups, civil liberty campaigners and customers forced Intel to turn off the technology in the chips.

See also:

27 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
05 Jul 02 | Technology
03 Sep 02 | Business
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27 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
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