Security Devices and Chips

In your investigations into security you will find many devices that either serve as in-line encrypting devices or are part of the normal CPU and disk operations.

You might even consider the idea of using a hardware device that performs your encryption for you. Such a device has been called an in-line encryptor because it sits in line with other communication devices. Data arrives in the form of plaintext through a plaintext port, gets encrypted and then exits through another port as ciphertext. The same port used to output ciphertext is also used as an input port when ciphertext arrives. The input ciphertext is decrypted into plaintext and then is sent to the first port described earlier. Encryption key setup is required before any data can be encrypted or decrypted.

Companies have been integrating encryption onto their devices in recent years. Companies such as Seagate have installed encryption onto their disk drives for added protection. Motherboard makers have also used smart cards containing Trusted Platform Module chips for their PC Motherboards. And cryptographic algorithms have also found their way into CPU manufactured by chipmakers such as VIA Technologies.

Back in 2003 Intel announced that they would include the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) security functions on their CPUs. The company providing those security functions was Portland-based Wave Systems.

TPM would allow users to encrypt or decrypt documents and ensure that they get stored in secure areas on a PC’s hard drive. The TPM specification was designed by the Trusted Computing Group, an industry consortium trying to establish standards for security. Members include Advanced Micro Devices, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel and Microsoft.

In 2007, Intel made the additional announcement that they would include data encryption security algorithms from PGP Corporation in its processor platforms.

The new Intel Centrino and Intel vPro processor technology-based systems would include the new data security solutions and be running either Microsoft Windows Vista or Windows XP.

The integration of PGP data security solutions within the Intel Active Management Technology (Intel AMT) framework would also support enhanced manageability and security required by enterprises both large and small.

The good news is that hardware support for encryption is here and improvements in technology will make these devices and chips better, faster, and more easily integrated into your environment.

Written by Mike Rede

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