Thursday, July 31, 2003

Trusted Computing

I've struggled with trying to come up with a simple way to understand and explain Microsoft's "Next Genernation Secure Computing Base" initiative, formerly called Palladium and in some way connected to the larger "Trusted Computing" project that also involves Intel and other hardware manufacturers. (It's possibly worth mentioning that the name "Palladium" refers to a statue of Athena in Troy; it was stolen by Odysseus immediately before the Greeks built the Trojan Horse. Who's in charge of project naming at Microsoft?)

The first thing to do is to disambiguate "Trusted Computing" from "Trustworthy Computing;" Microsoft and Bill Gates use the latter term to refer to software so incredibly secure from attack and reliable that you could use it as an operating system, a goal Microsoft hopes to eventually achieve.

Trusted Computing, I've finally realized, is quite simple to explain: it's a computer architecture that prevents you from gaining root privileges, even through hardware modification.