At WinHEC, Microsoft Discusses Details of Next-Generation Secure Computing Base

Next-GenerationSecureComputingBase(NGSCB):Thetraditional

left-handside

ofacomputerschipsetandCPUjoinsanew,

right-handside

securitycomputingchipset,designedtoprotectagainstmalicioussoftwarewhilepreservingWindowsopenness。

Clickimageforhigh-resolutionversion。

InafeaturearticlepublishedonPressPasslastJuly,MicrosoftNGSCBBusinessUnitGeneralManagerJohnManferdelliprovidedafirstlookatthenewtechnology,whichemploysanewsecuritycomputingchip,alongwithdesignchangestoacomputerscentralprocessingunit(CPU),chipsets,andinputandoutputdevices,suchaskeyboardsandthecomputersscreen。

WithNGSCB,applicationswillruninaprotectedmemoryspacethatishighlyresistanttosoftwaretamperingandinterference。

ThisweekattheWindowsHardwareEngineeringConference(WinHEC)2003inNewOrleans,MicrosoftisprovidinghardwarepartnerswithextensiveinformationaboutNGSCB,howitworks,andtheopportunitiescouldprovidethecomputer-hardwareindustry。

TolearnmoreaboutNGSCBandfindoutaboutsomeofthedevelopmentsthathaveoccurredsincelastJune,PressPassspokewithtwomembersoftwoNGSCBteam:BryanWillman,whoisaleadingMicrosoftWindowsarchitect,andPeterBiddle,aproductunitmanagerintheSecurityBusinessUnit,thegroupresponsibleforbuildingNGSCB。

PressPass:Lastsummer,JohnManferdelliexplainedthatNGSCBreliesonacombinationofhardwareandsoftware,includinganewsecuritychip,thattogetherwillprovidebettersecurityandprivacy。

Canyoustartbygivingusanoverviewofbasicprinciplesthatmakethispossible?

Willman:NGSCBdeliversfourfundamentalcomponents。

Thefirstissomethingcalled

attestation。

Attestationisabitlikehavingadocumentnotarized。

Notarypublicsdontsaywhetheradocumentisgoodorbad;alltheydoisverifytheidentityofthepersonwhosignedit,andmakesurethepersonsigningithasreadit。

Attestationletsothercomputersknowthatyourcomputerisreallythecomputeritclaimstobe,andisrunningthesoftwareitclaimstoberunning。

Thesecondcomponentis

sealedstorage,

whichallowstheusertoencryptinformationsothatitcanonlybeaccessedbyatrustworthyapplication。

Thiscanincludejusttheapplicationthatcreatedtheinformationinthefirstplace,oranyapplicationthattheusertrusts

Thethirdcomponentis

strongprocessisolation,

whichessentiallyactslikeabankvault。

Whatwevedoneiscarveoutasecureareawhatwecallthe

right-handside

whichlooksalotliketheregularCPUthatyouusetodonormal,day-to-daycomputing,whichwecallthe

left-handside。

Today,computersonlyhavealeft-handside。

WithNGSCB,operationsthatrunontheright-handsideareprotectedandisolatedfromtheleft-hand,whichmakesthemsignificantlymoresecurefromattack。

Thefourthcomponentissecureinputandoutput。

WithNGSCB,keystrokesareencryptedbeforetheycanbereadbysoftwareanddecryptedoncetheyreachtheright-handside。

Thatmeansthatnobodycanusemalicioussoftwaretorecordandstealormodifyyourkeyboardsstrokes。

Secureoutputissimilar。

Theinformationthatappearsonscreencanbepresentedtotheusersothatnooneelsecaninterceptitandreadit。

Takentogether,thesethingsallowyoutoknowwithaveryhighdegreeofconfidencethatthesoftwareinsideyourcomputerisdoingexactlywhatitissupposedtodo。

PressPass:Whyisthatsoimportant?

Biddle:WithNGSCB,webelievethatforthefirsttimeyouwillknowforafactthatthepieceofsoftwareyouaretalkingtoistheoneitissupposedtobe。

Today,whentwopiecesofsoftwaretalktoeachotherforexample,whenyouwanttobuysomethingonlineandyourbrowser

talks

toanapplicationonthesiteyourevisitingyouprettymuchhavetotaketheothercomputerswordforitthatitisactuallythecomputerthatyouresupposedtobecommunicatingwith。

AdditionallyNGSCBenablesyoutobesurethattherearenovirusesorspywarerunningonyourcomputerorthatthecomputeryouarecommunicatingwithcannotinterferewithyourcommunications。

Itopensthedoortoallkindsofsecuretransactionsthatjustarentpossibletoday。

PressPass:Canyougiveussomeexamples?

Willman:Supposeyourunapharmacycompany。

Whenyoutestanewdrug,ofcourseitsbadifsomeonehasabadreactiontothedrug,butitsmuchworseifsomeonetamperswiththatdatasothatyourresultsareskewed。

Thatmeansitscriticalthatalltestdataisenteredaccuratelyandnoonetamperswithit。

NGSCBensuresthatthosefilescantbebreachedormodifiedinanyway。

Heresanotherexample。

Ifyouandyourdoctorandyourpharmacistarecommunicatingaboutamedicalconditionyouhave,youwanttobesurethattheinformationyouexchangeisconfidentialandtrue。

Todayyouprobablywouldntwanttodothatonlinefromyourhomecomputerbecausewithallthatsoftwarethatyouandyourkidshaveloadedontoit,somewherealongtheywayitmayhavepickedupavirusortwo,sotheresnowaytoknowforsurehowsafeyourinformationis。

WithNGSCByouusetheright-handside,andnomatterwhatishappeningontheleft-handside,youcanbesurethatthedatapassedbetweenyouandyourdoctorandyourpharmacisthasntbeentamperedwith。

PressPass:WhowilluseNGSCB?

Onceitisavailable,whatisthemarketforNGSCBcomputers?

Biddle:BecauseitisanenhancementtotheMicrosoftfamilyofoperatingsystems,itisultimatelyforanyonewhorunsacomputerusingtheMicrosoftWindowsoperatingsystem。

Butweexpectthatthefirstcustomerswillbeenterprisesforwhomtheprotectionofintellectualpropertyisvitallyimportant。

Alotofcompanieshaveinformationtheyneedtokeepsecretmedicaldata,personnelandlegalrecords,drugformulas,businessplans。

Worryingaboutprotectingthesetypesofinformationkeepspeopleawakeatnight。

WithNGSCB,werebuildingsystemfromthegroundupthatwillhelpanswermanyoftheirconcerns。

Becauseitcanplaysuchastrongroleinprotectingpersonalprivacy,weexpectthatasthetechnologyevolves,itwillgraduallybecomestandardequipmentforhomeusers,aswell。

PressPass:HowdoesNGSCBhelpimprovedigitalprivacyforindividualusers?

Willman:Heresanexample。

SayIbuysomethingonline。

WithNGSCB,IhaveasystemwhereIcantransmitdatalikemymailingaddresstoatrustedapplication。

ThecompanyImbuyingfromusesthatinformationtoprintalabelandthendeletesit。

BecauseIhaveatrustedapplication,thecompanycanbesureIvesentthemalegitimatemailingaddress。

AndIcanbesurethattheywillonlyusethatinformationtosendmetheitemIvebought,andtheywontdoanythingelsewithit。

Biddle:Privacyisahugeconcernforus。

OurNo。

1designgoalhasbeensecurity,becausewithoutsecurity,privacyisimpossibletopreserve,andweveputhugeamountsofworkintoNGSCBtoensurethatitprovidesarealfoundationforpreservingprivacy。

PressPass:AsMicrosofthasdiscussedNGSCB,youvebeencarefultoemphasizethatitisanevolutionarytechnology。

Yetthecapabilitiesitoffersrealsecurityandprivacyseemquiterevolutionary。

Biddle:Itsevolutionaryinthesensethatwhilewereofferingcapabilitiesthatarentpossibletoday,werealsopreservingbackwardcompatibilitysothateverythingthatrunstodayonyourPCwillrunonacomputerthathasNGSCBtechnology,includingapplications,devicedrivers,andeverythingelse。

Itsalsoevolutionaryinthesensethattheconceptswereincorporatinghavebeenaroundforalongtime。

Thinkofitthiswayitsnotthatweinventedanentirelynewcuisine。

Rather,itslikewesatdownwithsomeflour,yeast,tomatoes,andcheese,andinventedpizza。

Ontheotherhand,thecapabilitiesthatNGSCBoffersarerevolutionary。

Andthepossibilitiesthatitwillopenupfornewwaystousecomputerswillberevolutionaryaswell。

AsourpartnersstarttouseNGSCBandunderstandwhatitisandhowitworks,wethinktheyllcomeupwiththousandsofnewideas。

Thatswhatplatformsaregreatfor:theyallowpeopletotakeatechnologyanduseitasaspringboardforincredibleinnovationsthatthepeoplewhoinventedtheplatformneverthoughtabout。

PressPass:LetsshiftgearsabitandtalkaboutthedevelopmentsthathaveoccurredwithNGSCBsincelastJune。

Biddle:WhatwevedoneoverthelastyearorsoisturntheNGSCBconceptintoaworkingreality。

Inpastyear,wegotanexustheoperatingsystemkernelsoftwareontheright-handsideupandrunningforthefirsttime。

Wevebeenabletoputupawindowthatusesthetrusteduserinterfacegraphicsengine。

WevebeenabletopartitionmemorywiththeassistanceofhardwaresothatoneapplicationisunabletoaccessanotherNBSCB-hostedapplication。

Willman:Also,processormanufacturershavemadegreatdealofprogress。

Sohaveperipheralvendors,andwellhavesecurekeyboardsthatwereshowingatWinHEC。

Softwarehascomealongway,too,andwefindnewusesforNGSCBeveryday。

PressPass:NGSCBisamajorfocusatWinHEC2003。

Whynow?

Biddle:Forus,WinHECisthepremierhardwareengineeringeventfortheWindowssystem。

ItstheannualeventwherewelayoutaroadmapforourhardwarepartnersthatgivesthemalookatwhereweseeWindowstechnologygoingforthenext18-24months。

Becauseweretalkingaboutsoftwarebetaavailabilitysometimenextyear,nowistherighttimetotalkinmoredetailaboutNGSCB。

Willman:Nowisagreattimeforhardwarepartnerstobegintoreadthespecs,askquestions,andadjusttheirbusinessmodeltotakeadvantageofit。

IfyouareintheaudienceatWinHECthinkingthisisgreatstuffandwonderingifyouhavetimetointegrateintoyourproducts,youdonthavetorunoutoftheroomandscrambletostartworkingonit。

Ayearfromnow,ifyouhaventgottenstarted,youllprobablyfindyourselfbehindthecurve。

NowisthetimetostartworkingsoyoucanbuildNGSCBfunctionalityintoyourproductswithoutgoingintocrisismode。

PressPass:WhatareyourgoalsforWinHEC?

Whatisitthatyouwanthardwarepartnerstocomeawaywith?

Biddle:IthinkthekeythingisthatwewanthardwarepartnerstoknowthatMicrosoftunderstandstheconcernsthatourcustomershaveaboutsecurityandprivacy,thatwehaveasolutionthatoffersnewfeaturesandnewsbenefits,thatweneedthemasanOEMorISVtomakethissuccessful,andthatthereisrealopportunityinitforthem。

WinHECisanopportunityforustorevealinvastlygreaterdetailwhatweredoingwithNGSCB,andtogetfeedbackfromourindustrypartnerstolearnwhatwecandotoimprovethetechnology。

Thisisarealprocess,andwewantpeoplefromacrossthehardwareindustrytoparticipateandhelpusshapeNGSCBsothatitworksforeveryone。

PressPass:HowimportantisNGSCBgoingtobeforhardwaremanufacturers?

Willman:Forhardwaremakers,thisisqualitativelydifferent。

Foryears,hardwaremanufacturershavedoneagreatjobofmakingcomputersfasterandcheaper。

ButitsgettingharderandhardertodifferentiatePCs。

WithNGSCB,therecanbeadramaticdifferencethatwillbeveryeasytosee。

WhenNGSCBcomputersbecomeavailable,companies,governments,andindividualuserswillbeabletoseethatthenewmachinesaresignificantlybetteratprotectingsecretsandpreservingprivacy。

Thatshoulddriveupgradesandenablehardwaremakerstochargeapremiumfortheirnewproducts。

PressPass:WhenwillNGSCBbeavailable?

Biddle:Wehaventannouncedretailavailabilityyet,excepttosaythatitwillbeincludedinafuturemajorMicrosoftoperatingsystemrelease。


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