Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Security

A Critical Look at Trusted Computing 278

Posted by timothy
from the long-hard-look dept.
mod12 writes "After just attending a two-week summer program on the theoretical foundations of security (one of the speakers was from Microsoft research), I have been interested in trying to find out if the "trusted computing" initiative was still alive. I got my answer today in the New York Times from an article that was fortunately rather critical of the concept."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

A Critical Look at Trusted Computing

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2003 @10:41PM (#6336282)
    As long as Microsoft is there, there is no trust.
  • It's full of hex! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dagnabit (89294) on Monday June 30, 2003 @10:46PM (#6336317) Homepage
    I love the image at the top of the article showing the "sample of the code for a more secure version of Microsoft Windows" -- just some random binary file open in a hex editor.

    Gotta love the NYT - their editors are on the ball!
    • by I Want GNU! (556631) on Monday June 30, 2003 @10:53PM (#6336355) Homepage
      Didn't you hear? Microsoft is programming the DRM system with their patented HexCode (TM). While it may decrease productivity, programming in hex and binary turns a simple 7% profit into a 111% profit, making MicroStock more attractive to inventestors.
    • I love the image at the top of the article showing the "sample of the code for a more secure version of Microsoft Windows" -- just some random binary file open in a hex editor.

      Ummmm... I believe that's a Palladium key, not machine code. Since the best encryption keys are those that are truly randomly generated, not the pseudo-random numbers most software uses at present, you see a good key (if it is indeed random).

      Gotta love the NYT - their editors are on the ball!

      Apparently. (Well, this time anyway.)
    • Computers with TCM/Palladium/WNGSCB/handcuffware will be fragile. Many more disk sectors will be essential for booting. A greater percentage of memory errors will cause exceptions. Maybe you thought SMP hardware showed a lot of race conditions? You will surely see them now. Call it disasterous reputation maintenance (DRM).
    • Re:It's full of hex! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by UserGoogol (623581)
      More like Unicode, and it doesn't look entirely random.

      This is pretty much what it says, save for a the stuff at the end. Format is unicode.

      [%s] & Bd[%s] values for User Name text OK description ... Unexpected type [%s]
      What with all those [%s]s everywhere, it seems like it has some sort of a practical purpose, although it isn't "code" per se.
  • non DRM computers? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by I Want GNU! (556631) on Monday June 30, 2003 @10:47PM (#6336321) Homepage
    Does anyone know of companies planning on building processors without DRM? In a competitive marketplace there would not be DRM because consumers don't demand it and surely would prefer computers that aren't controlled by the market after the sale. But with only two major PC processor manufacturers having a duopoly over the market it isn't very competitive.
    • by I Want GNU! (556631) on Monday June 30, 2003 @10:49PM (#6336337) Homepage
      I misspoke--I meant that they surely would prefer computers that aren't controlled by the manufacturers after the sale.
    • by vegetablespork (575101) <vegetablespork@gmail.com> on Monday June 30, 2003 @10:50PM (#6336342) Homepage
      You'll be able to get a non-DRM'd computer. It'll be made illegal as a "circumvention device" in short order if it actually turns out to be useful for any sort of multimedia applications.

      I recommend not tossing systems when you upgrade--pre-ban PCs should be worth a tidy sum soon.

      • I don't know about computer hardware going up in value, but I'm hoping some company will start selling non DRM processors as soon as Intel and Microsoft pull out of the market. They might be as fast as Intel or AMD processors but I'm sure there would be a market for them.

        And what about Macs? I haven't heard of any DRM plans for Mac computers.
        • by WCMI92 (592436) on Monday June 30, 2003 @11:15PM (#6336474) Homepage
          "I don't know about computer hardware going up in value, but I'm hoping some company will start selling non DRM processors as soon as Intel and Microsoft pull out of the market. They might be as fast as Intel or AMD processors but I'm sure there would be a market for them."

          What's wrong with current processors? I mean, do we REALLY need 3GHz machines? No, I've a couple that are below 1GHz and unless I wanted to play some insane game at high resolution, it's perfectly fine.

          Besides, even if Digital Restrictions Management is in the processors, it likely can be ignored or disabled by the BIOS. For AMD or Intel to come out with a processor that REQUIRED DRM to operate would be to commit corporate suicide.

          Look for crafty motherboard makers like Abit, etc (who cater to the geeks) to add DRM disabling as a feature just as they do with overclocking. Abit doesn't exactly care what Intel or AMD thinks of them, they care about what their CUSTOMERS want.

          Which is why they make easily overclockable boards, the infamous (I had one) BP6 dual celeron board, etc.

          There WILL be a market for a board that locks out DRM. If only among the tinfoil hat crowd, but given the OUTRAGE over the P3 serial number, I can't imagine there not being a lot of noise over DRM in the processor... At least enough to get the option to turn it off.
          • Yes, we do (Score:4, Interesting)

            by tkrotchko (124118) * on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @12:27AM (#6336871) Homepage
            "I mean, do we REALLY need 3GHz machines? "

            Yes. To do any sorts of useful video editing, you need fast machines; in fact, I'd argue that 3ghz is the minimum you need.

            Computer speed has historically been turned into new, useful applications; applications that can't even be considered until computers are fast enough.

            Consider MP3; it could have been implemented 20 years before it became big; the theory of lossy compression was understood by researchers, but it wasn't terribly practical until faster computers appeared.

            And this is on down the line... think about as I mentioned before... video editing, real-time video effects in games, speech recognition, pattern recognition; each needs more and faster processor power.

            I'll grant you, if you want to do email and browse the web, then you're in luck: a 450mhz PII will suit you nicely, and a wonderful machine can be purchased for under $200 for that purpose. But that's pretty myopic; people want faster computers not to read email faster, but because they want to run new applications that are only possible with faster computers.

            So I'd argue there is a significant problem if the world's CPU and chipmakers will only produce "trusted" versions of their product.
          • by Anal Surprise (178723) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @01:44AM (#6337195)
            There's a reason for the outrage.

            The "Oh, the consumer can switch it off" line is utter and complete fucking bullshit.

            Yes, you can turn off DRM. Yes, Zion can shut down the machines in the basement. What happens then? Applications that used to work stop, asking you politely to "Please enable DRM" and offering to tell you how. More polite dialog boxes pop up: "You need to be running DRM to use this application" or "This feature requires DRM support (where available)".

            You're given the choice between owning your own computer and being owned. Think this is paranoid fantasy? Try turning off cookies and javascript on your average user's machine. They're be completely fucked, with a big cloud of "turn cookies on" sites that simply do not work. Compliance or Else: That is the promise of DRM.

    • by jeffy124 (453342) on Monday June 30, 2003 @11:01PM (#6336406) Homepage Journal
      IBM. They already build them into some ThinkPad laptops under Win2k, and have a driver for their TCPA chip available for Linux somewhere on their website. There was a story on /. some months ago about that driver.
      • TCPA!= Palladium.

        Palladium is truly evil and a tamperproof drm system from the ground up that is highly controlled.

        TCPA is just an encryption card solderied onto the motherboard.

        Very different.

        You can turn off TCPA, but in palladium each component will have a scc chip that will handshake with each other component and the nexus chip soldiered on board. IF one component is not disablable then it won't work! This includes even the CPU and VIDEO CARDS!

        More info is here [microsoft.com]
    • OpenCores [opencores.org] is designing non DRM processors [opencores.org] under BSD and GPL licenses. The processors [opencores.org] are not yet being manufactured as standalone systems, but they have been used in a number of embedded products [opencores.org] so far.

      OpenCores isn't a company. The best comparison is probably an immature version of the Debian Project [debian.org].

    • The entertainment industry is *not* going to succeed in making non-DRM PCs illegal. The size of the entertainment industry is miniscule compared to the size of the computer industry, and even if they have influence beyond their economic weight, they are really outclassed here. I recall a fun quote by an IBM lobbyist who called the RIAA "the pimple on the elephant's ass".
      • That "pimple" will make all the chip manufacturers comply with DRM, or face criminal charges. Arrogance in the face of the truly fanatical is costly.

        Apple and IBM will comply, once the consumers shrug their collective shoulders. Americans are good at shrugging their shoulders. Just look at what happened in the last three months.
        • The law as it stands will not sustain criminal charges, and getting a law passed that makes DRM mandatory will be impossible precisely because of the absurd mismatch between the sizes of the industries.
    • Does anyone know of companies planning on building processors without DRM?

      Most all of them. AFAIK you will still be able to install Linux on a "secure" Dell in the future. Also, when it comes to Windows, all of the DRM features can be disabled. The caveot? You can't access DRM media. For those of us who won't buy DRM'd media, it's Windows as usual.
    • Buy a Mac.

      Yes they have both a software and hardware monopoly, but at least they are nicer in regards to DRM. After all Intel/Microsoft are in bed together so its which dictator do you want?

      All I know is Apple's DRM Itunes store will let you play the files on up to 3 macs and you can keep the files playable on newer macs that you can choose!

      Why should you suffer because Bill wants people to run his software and be the gatekeeper and eliminate competition because he has the keys to your computer? Why shou
  • Markoff!!!!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sixdotoh (584811) <sixdotoh&hotmail,com> on Monday June 30, 2003 @10:48PM (#6336329) Homepage
    yeah, and check out who wrote the article.

    for those of you who don't know, Markoff is the journalist who wrote several articles about kevin mitnick in which he "created the myth of kevin mitnick" (in kevin's words). many untrue allegations were presented as supposed facts.

    but don't let that discourage you from reading the article.

  • Weasel wording (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Atario (673917) on Monday June 30, 2003 @10:49PM (#6336338) Homepage
    "We think this is a huge innovation story," said Mario Juarez, Microsoft's group product manager for the company's security business unit. "This is just an extension of the way the current version of Windows has provided innovation for players up and down the broad landscape of computing."
    And that "way" would be: to the highest bidder.
    • by letxa2000 (215841) on Monday June 30, 2003 @10:51PM (#6336346)
      My favorite line in the article was:

      • For example, Mr. Juarez, the Microsoft executive, said that if the company created a more secure side to its operating system software, customers might draw the conclusion that its current software is not as safe to use.

      NO!! Y'think? :)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2003 @10:50PM (#6336343)
    SAN FRANCISCO, June 29 -- Your next personal computer may well come with its own digital chaperon.

    As PC makers prepare a new generation of desktop computers with built-in hardware controls to protect data and digital entertainment from illegal copying, the industry is also promising to keep information safe from tampering and help users avoid troublemakers in cyberspace.

    Silicon Valley -- led by Microsoft and Intel -- calls the concept "trusted computing." The companies, joined by I.B.M., Hewlett-Packard, Advanced Micro Devices and others, argue that the new systems are necessary to protect entertainment content as well as safeguard corporate data and personal privacy against identity theft. Without such built-in controls, they say, Hollywood and the music business will refuse to make their products available online.

    But by entwining PC software and data in an impenetrable layer of encryption, critics argue, the companies may be destroying the very openness that has been at the heart of computing in the three decades since the PC was introduced. There are simpler, less intrusive ways to prevent illicit file swapping over the Internet, they say, than girding software in so much armor that new types of programs from upstart companies may have trouble working with it.

    "This will kill innovation," said Ross Anderson, a computer security expert at Cambridge University, who is organizing opposition to the industry plans. "They're doing this to increase customer lock-in. It will mean that fewer software businesses succeed and those who do succeed will be large companies."

    Critics complain that the mainstream computer hardware and software designers, under pressure from Hollywood, are turning the PC into something that would resemble video game players, cable TV and cellphones, with manufacturers or service providers in control of which applications run on their systems.

    In the new encrypted computing world, even the most mundane word-processing document or e-mail message would be accompanied by a software security guard controlling who can view it, where it can be sent and even when it will be erased. Also, the secure PC is specifically intended to protect digital movies and music from online piracy.

    But while beneficial to the entertainment industry and corporate operations, the new systems will not necessarily be immune to computer viruses or unwanted spam e-mail messages, the two most severe irritants to PC users.

    "Microsoft's use of the term `trusted computing' is a great piece of doublespeak," said Dan Sokol, a computer engineer based in San Jose, Calif., who was one of the original members of the Homebrew Computing Club, the pioneering PC group. "What they're really saying is, `We don't trust you, the user of this computer.' "

    The advocates of trusted computing argue that the new technology is absolutely necessary to protect the privacy of users and to prevent the theft of valuable intellectual property, a reaction to the fact that making a perfect digital copy is almost as easy as clicking a mouse button.

    "It's like having a little safe inside your computer," said Bob Meinschein, an Intel security architect. "On the corporate side the value is much clearer," he added, "but over time the consumer value of this technology will become clear as well" as more people shop and do other business transactions online.

    Industry leaders also contend that none of this will stifle innovation. Instead, they say, it will help preserve and expand general-purpose computing in the Internet age.

    "We think this is a huge innovation story," said Mario Juarez, Microsoft's group product manager for the company's security business unit. "This is just an extension of the way the current version of Windows has provided innovation for players up and down the broad landscape of computing."

    The initiative is based on a new specification for personal computer hardware, first introduced in 2000 and backed by a group of companies called the Trusted Compu

  • But by entwining PC software and data in an impenetrable layer of encryption

    COME ON! please, why do they make such claims?! or why do journalists make such claims? i think the establishment/private companies/whatever has been proved wrong on that issue over and over and OVER again. if there's someone who actually thinks their data is totally secure these days . . .

    another point: this initiative could be very dangerous. buying OS's with this crap already on them, limiting what you can do . .. so, what, should we stock up on Win2000, XP, and Linux OS's along with our CD and DVD burners?

    DRM may stop the morons, but soon enough, once a few "l33ts" circumvent it and it gets released into the wild, what's the point.

    • True, and - once one person has managed to crack it, Palladium becomes a double edged sword that now swings in favour of the pirates, who can use it to create an untraceable distribution network.
      • once one person has managed to crack it, Palladium becomes a double edged sword that now swings in favour of the pirates, who can use it to create an untraceable distribution network.

        You don't need to "crack it". Trusted Computing has as its design goal exactly this sort of functionality: allowing networks of computers to trust that all the systems will behave in a predictable way. No one seems to understand that Microsoft wants this kind of functionality. DRM is only part of the picture. TC allows fo
    • >But by entwining PC software and data in an impenetrable layer of encryption

      COME ON! please, why do they make such claims?!

      My understanding is that if the chosen key is sufficiently large, like 2048 bits, then the encryption really is impenetrable, i.e. not breakable even by brute force given even the computing power years from now. Example: the xbox, a device with a 2048-bit key, has not been compromised, and a large scale distributed attack was dismissed even by those who dislike Microsoft as a

      • Well, someone spilling the key on purpose is one possibility, but the other, more likely IHMO, is that someone spills it by accident [wired.com].

        After all, it seems to me that if every piece of equipment that can play media has to have DRM, odds are that *someone* will screw up somewhere and leave the backdoor wide open...
  • who do you trust (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ecalkin (468811) on Monday June 30, 2003 @10:55PM (#6336369)
    we all deal with 'trusted computing' to some extent or other. in any computer system there is a person/persons/entity that is trusted. in the simplest form it is supervisor/admin/etc. as you design a network you describe who is trusted.

    when you get a commercial digital certificate you are expressing trust.

    in a well designed (large) system you would build in multiple trusts to act as a check and balance. sort of an auditing feature. novell is real big on this.

    i find it interesting that the ms model of trust is pretty much putting all your eggs in what is mostly their basket. no auditing, no accountability, etc.

    i suspect that we will see more distributed trust as companies and isps become more involved in this.

    eric
    • Exactly. Everyone has been saying "trusted computing" like it's entirely bad. Really, it could improve security A LOT for everything, not just Windows. I would think that all of the tinfoil hats would WANT TCPA approved motherboards because they have all sorts of nifty encryption and such implemented in hardware, thus making it harder for the government to steal their computer's brainwaves. I would certainly get a TCPA approved mobo if its other features were comparable to my current board. Quite frank
    • we all deal with 'trusted computing' to some extent or other. in any computer system there is a person/persons/entity that is trusted. in the simplest form it is supervisor/admin/etc. as you design a network you describe who is trusted.

      With Trusted Computing, it is the program which is trusted - to behave as it was coded to behave!

      I remember when I was a kid, there was a book distributed by the John Birch Society (ultra right wingers): "You can Trust the Communists" A shocking title for the days of M
  • Jobs' comment (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PetWolverine (638111) on Monday June 30, 2003 @10:58PM (#6336384) Journal
    ...that the hardware "doesn't make it more secure" is well-made. The extra chips for the Trusted Computing platform just contain extra instructions to execute--something that can be done exactly as well in software. The only difference with doing it in hardware is that it can't be updated, so that if a flaw is found, you're stuck with it.
  • The meaning of trust (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dmeranda (120061) on Monday June 30, 2003 @10:59PM (#6336389) Homepage

    The word "trust" is pretty much the central idea in formal security. And ultimately is comes down to deciding if one person trusts another person. Of course when you mix in technologies, then that expands into trusting the system components. Do you trust the website is the correct one? Do you trust the CA registrar. Do you trust that the web browser isn't lying to you. Do you trust that your keyboard isn't recording all your keystrokes? Its all about trust, and no secure system can avoid the subject. And no formal security method can avoid it either.

    So yes, trusted security is very much alive, or it had better be, or we won't have any security. But the big question is whom or what is being trusted? And the big media companies are trying their best to confuse the issue. It's just like their "secure media". Their concept of trust is that they, the media distributors, want to be able to trust your hardware to not trust you the consumer. They also want to also insure that other consumers will not trust you, or you could otherwise become your own media producer and distributor and compete with them. If DVD players only play content that is digitally signed by the cartel, then you are barred from competing because you can no longer produce your own content that other's hardware will trust. But on the other side I want to trust that my computer is not infected with a virus; I want to trust that my legally copied media is not corrupted by the media police. Trust is the just the tool.

    Trusted computed could be a very good thing, but you absolutely must define what you mean by trust before you can begin any discussion or evaluation, or to say whether it it "bad" or "good". From a purely technical and formal perspective trusted computing is the next step forward. From a society's perspective the answer is not so easy.

    • Yes, I can presently trust that my browser is not lying to me. On a "trusted computing" platform, I will no longer have that trust, because I won't have the final say about what browser and how it's used.

      • Yes, I can presently trust that my browser is not lying to me. On a "trusted computing" platform, I will no longer have that trust, because I won't have the final say about what browser and how it's used.

        You won't be able to alter or patch your browser without the remote server being able to find out that you have done so. Once your browser is loaded into memory and is running, you won't be able to debug it or alter or inspect its memory. Those are the limitations imposed by the trusted computing concep
        • That's exactly what I meant. With "trusted computing", *I* will no longer be in control. How will I know what the hell my browser does behind my back? A: I won't.

          Lordy, imagine the fun with web pages that take advantage of the user's consequent inability to turn off a "trusted" feature. (Javascript, automatic software [trojan] installs, homepage hijacking...)

          Whereas right now, I can do any horrible thing I want to my browser, because it's my own damned business; and it doesn't go off and do naughty update
    • In this context, trusted computing means that your computer program can be trusted to operate according to its software code. That implies that the end user (or anyone else) cannot debug, alter or inspect the program while it is running. All he can do is exert the ultimate control: pull the plug, shut down the computer, stop the program. But if it is allowed to run, it can be trusted to run according to its code.

      In practice this is achieved by having some secure hardware report a hash of the program's c
      • by Igmuth (146229)
        Well if it is uncorruptable so that it is immune to a virus, then it can't be patched or upgraded. If there is a method for patching there is (technically) a method for viruses to enter.

        In other words: You can't have a door and guarentee only one person can enter said door.

        (Ya I realize that wasn't exactly what you were saying...)
  • trusted computing? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jeffy124 (453342) on Monday June 30, 2003 @10:59PM (#6336390) Homepage Journal
    definition depends on who you ask.

    it originally meant protecting user keys via a secured tcpa chip (not drm). then microsoft started their trustworthy campaign and included palladium's announcement and that somehow changed the definition to include drm. so please, keep that in mind. palladium and tcpa are not the same thing.
    • Amen brother.

      Go read this. [microsoft.com]

      In TCPA only the single TCPA chip and the bios encrypts data. Micosoft's answer looks like a nightmare of encryption chips doing PKI with the nexus chip and integrated cpu, bios, video card, hard drive, dvd, nic, etc. Yep thats right all the pheripherals will have scc encryption chips using a secure channel over the bus. Bill Gates called them bouncers and is designed to be tamperproof. If you crack one key the other component will reencrypt the data and may report it to Microso
  • by Neuroelectronic (643221) on Monday June 30, 2003 @10:59PM (#6336392)
    Creating an even more closed system will cut off the hand that feeds microsoft. There will be no more small developers in windows, which means MS will have no one to rip fresh ideas from! They seem to forget where they came from. Thank god they finnally will paint themselves into a corner.
    • When this crap comes out I already KNOW what I'll do...

      I'll go with the PS2 or the Xbox for gaming and go purely Linux on my server and desktops. The only reason why I have Doze is for games... But with PC games getting increasingly dumbed down, etc, I may as well get a console (haven't had one since the Genesis, and before that the Atari 2600).

      Or, alternately, I may look to purchasing an Apple. I'd prefer to HAVE an Apple, as I love the idea of a truly consumer friendly Unix OS (though Linux is improv
    • ummmmm, no? you wish, apparantly. read into the article a little more, buddy. if MS knows one thing, its marketing. hello: its the most popular operating system in the world. how do you think it got that way. you don't seem to think because its a great OS, so let's stick with marketing . . . they know what's good for 'em
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday June 30, 2003 @11:02PM (#6336414) Homepage
    This crap is all about DRM. It's not about real protection hardware, like support for rings or virtual machines or capabilities or channelized I/O or secure interprocess communication.

    If the Wintel crowd were serious about security, they'd push for a hardware architecture that supports secure microkernels really well and put a very partitioned OS on top of it. But no; it's all about boot-time lock in.

    • If the Wintel crowd were serious about security, they'd push for a hardware architecture that supports secure microkernels really well and put a very partitioned OS on top of it.

      What do you think the Palladium nexus is?
    • Absolutely agree! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by spitzak (4019)
      The idea that this has *anything* to do with what most people call "computer security" is rubbish.

      To counter your point, modern versions of Widows do use the CPU protections to stop programs from doing anything they want. They cannot randomly jump into the kernel or change it.

      However this reinforces your point:

      1. The CPU protections are hardware protections that stop "bad" programs (outside the kernel) from messing with "good" ones (inside the kernel).

      2. This hardware protection is absolutley bullet

  • Positive sides (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DreadSpoon (653424) on Monday June 30, 2003 @11:03PM (#6336418) Journal
    I just wish people would remember all the _good_ parts of trusted computing. So far as the TCPA goes, DRM isn't even a part of it. It's just a standard hardware interface for encryption and key storage. Whether that's used to sign OS's, implement DRM, or simply secure Apache, is up to the OS. Yes, it _can_ be used for all that. But hell, a BIOS _now_ can be set to only boot an OS with a certain fingerprint - how the technology is used is independent from the technology itself. TCPA is a (possibly) good thing. Palladium/DRM, that's the real evil (from the consumer and OSS viewpoints, anyways).
    • TCPA is a (possibly) good thing. Palladium/DRM, that's the real evil (from the consumer and OSS viewpoints, anyways).

      No, that's totally mistaken. TCPA (recently renamed TCG [trustedcom...ggroup.org]) is essentially identical to Palladium/NGSCB in its basic security goals. TCPA provides for exactly the same kind of features, including the "secure attestation" which is the core requirement for DRM.

      This is the feature whereby the TCPA chip (called the TPM) computes a cryptographic hash of the software that loads, and then reports
    • It's hard to remember the _good_ parts of "trusted computing" when I haven't ever heard any.

      Unless you consider it identical so signing code modules. There are reasons for that. But that's not what the articles are talking about.

    • Re:Positive sides (Score:5, Insightful)

      by firewrought (36952) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @01:41AM (#6337183)
      I just wish people would remember all the _good_ parts of trusted computing.

      TCPA is going to be bad for more reasons than just Palladium... it's going to be a major headache for IT departments trying to cope with software that is actively unfriendly. Why? It's about visibility. When an IT department needs to replace a legacy app, write bridge code to shuffle data b/t two different software systems, or make revisions to a relic in-house app, the amount of visibility will determine how quickly and cheaply the change can be accomplished.

      Visible things include: good documentation, available source code, standard protocals, open data formats, strongly defined interfaces, generous/lax security, unencrypted traffic, non-regulated/classified data, informative error messages, enthusiastic vendor support, open bug databases, and software-oriented community forums (yay Google Groups!).

      Invisible things include: missing/shoddy/incomplete documentation, overly-flexible products, binary network protocals and file formats, marketing-centric websites [heh... just try to find technical info about Crystal Reports [crystaldecisions.com]], "friendly" error messages, abandoned development platforms, and (getting to the point)... stuff that's too locked down.

      DRM and trusted computing will add yet another layer of flaky security that prevents casual intrustion while seriously hendering IT. Businesses will be tantalized by the idea that they can precisely control how a memo get distributed, archived, and destroyed. They will be oohed and ahhed that they can enforce their "email retention policies" through the use of TCPA. But this will come with some heavy costs... of which visibility is one of the major ones. I can see it now:

      • Client: "Here's that email you needed to hook up system A to system B, but I can't send it to you. It says it's protected. I tried taking a screenshot, but it came out all black. I can't seem to print it out either. We could probably call Ginger and find out who could give the authorization to transfer this, but she's not here today. How about I just read it to you over the phone?" [Stupid DRMish Feature]
      • Product Expert: "Oh yeah... to import text records into RiskModeller3000, you have to create an executable and pay the vendor a wad of cash to sign it. Only then will RiskModeller be willing to execute your binary and munch in the text it produces." [Stupid Licensing Scheme]
      • Packaging Expert: "To transfer this program from our testing environment to the produciton environment, you'll need to recompile the binary and sign it with this 'production certificate'... hope your build environment hasn't shifted around much or you'll blow the integrity of all that 'final release testing' your clients just spent four weeks on." [Stupid Security Requirement]
      Visibility affects the agility of business and the cost of IT. It's not just an abstract good... it provides lubrication for business IT and reduces real cost. A company with a lot of visibility will be more agile and flexible than one without it. And, in the final analysis, a society with visibility will generate more wealth than one that gets too tangled up in an artifical form of security. TMCA is basically bad, because--while it could have good uses--it will ultimately reduce visibility and harm society.

      It's not just about pirating MP3's... it's about the creation of real wealth and new technologies.

  • by poptones (653660) on Monday June 30, 2003 @11:03PM (#6336421) Journal
    I say "bring it on." the sooner MS makes this their "product focus" the sooner every foreign government in the world drops Windows from its desktops like an anthrax sandwich.

    Does anyone believe for a minute the US will allow Microsoft to ship, worldwide, a truly secure "solution?" Of course not - even in the (very) unlikely event MS actually ships a Pall-Windows without cryptographic backdoors no one will believe it. All those foreign countries are gonna have to choose between adopting linux or being Bill's bitch, and they're gonna have to get motherboards and CPU chips from somewhere. And once they're running linux the only remaining half of the "wintel" brand has lost its grip on the market. If AMD and intel won't ship pal-free chips you can be sure there are other semiconductor companies just chomping at the bit to take their places. And in the meantime we just might make networked computing a bit more secure.

  • "Industry leaders" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ScuzzyTerminator (683387) on Monday June 30, 2003 @11:04PM (#6336422)
    Industry leaders also contend that none of this will stifle innovation.

    What the Industry Leaders mean is that the Industry Leaders will not be stifled. The rest of the industry should just not worry their little heads. It will all be done for us by those who know best.

  • by diabolus_in_america (159981) on Monday June 30, 2003 @11:05PM (#6336427) Journal
    The biggest argument made against Lindows was that people who bought the system would be turned off once they got it home and realized it wouldn't let them do what they expected. In this case, running MS Office, games, etc. As a result, Lindows has since abandoned much of their early claims about MS-compatibility.

    What happens when a someone gets one of these new Trusted systems home and realizes that they can't use it as expected? What happens when it doesn't let them them burn audio CD's or play previous burned songs on CD-R/W's? What happens when they have trouble just opening word processing or spreadsheet files, because they are not considered "trusted"? Even email could become a problem.

    I see this whole "Trusted" initiative by Microsoft as a potential boon to open source software developers and even "white box" computer manufacturers.

    Word will get out: "Don't buy any of the new Hewlett-Packards with that new Windows. They just don't work!" Microsoft has already turned many corporations against them with the new License 6.0 scheme. "Trusted" computing could turn many home users against Microsoft and all of the hardware manufacturers who have thrown their lot in with them.
    • And that's what it's going to take -- a backlash at the level of Corporate Suit, and to a lesser extent Joe User (who has far less financial clout). When the CEO of some major corp discovers that he can't do what he's *used to doing* with email due to DRM enforced by the machine, there will be very loud hell to pay.

      Unfortunately, that's liable to come too late for most of the market, especially for the tiny fraction comprised of us geeks. Once DRM-in-hardware gets entrenched and Average Joe gets used to it
  • by UltraSkuzzi (682384) on Monday June 30, 2003 @11:06PM (#6336433) Homepage
    Large corporations have historically always got what they wanted, unless of course the government had steped in. I'm no longer so concerned if this technology will be implemented. I am now concerned about HOW the computing community will deal with it. Gates already said he doesn't plan on deploying trusted computing technologies immediately. Why wouldn't he want to deploy this technology that can supposedly stop all forms of piracy? People will not buy computers that do not do what they ask. MS will wait until their TC enabled OS is prevailent on most PCs, and then send a signal from Redmond enabling it. There will be no way out. People will have to learn to live with it. After all they paid hundreds of dollars for their PC, right? You can't stop progress, but you can try. UltraSkuzzi The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery. -- Winston Churchill
    • The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings.

      I don't care about the unequal sharing of the blessings, that is after all what motivates people to do wonderful things, paid or not. It is the unequal sharing of opportunity that is the problem.

      And things like DRM, outrageous copyrights, software patents, and illegal "Redmond" monopolies are fundamentally about eliminating opportunity or unfairly sharing opportunity; preventing people from doing wonderful things even though they

  • by thepacketmaster (574632) on Monday June 30, 2003 @11:08PM (#6336440) Homepage Journal
    I believe "Reliable and Secure" computing is what people want for home computers. The term "Trusted" computing is usually saved for military computers, etc, that are following the Rainbow books' criteria. Also for systems trying to get a Common Criteria rating. "Trusted" computing includes two-man controls, the kind that prevent one person from launching a bunch of nuclear missiles. The NYtimes version of trusted computing means computers that the RIAA and MPAA can trust not to let you download their stuff. It might even include letting the RIAA and MPAA destroy your computer if you do (based on what some senators want to pass as law)
  • by thelandp (632129) on Monday June 30, 2003 @11:08PM (#6336444)
    Even though computer PC hardware has been sufficient for most applications (other than games / video editing etc) for quite a few years now, Microsoft and Intel have been constantly trying to justify more upgrades of both hardware and software to the user. Now along comes this:

    Beyond changing the appearance and control of Windows, the system will also require a new generation of computer hardware, not only replacing the computer logic board but also peripherals like mice, keyboards and video cards

    Like most new Windows features, I don't see anything in this that the consumer actually wants, I think it is just a way to force yet another upgrade on us.

    • "Like most new Windows features, I don't see anything in this that the consumer actually wants, I think it is just a way to force yet another upgrade on us."

      And the public will eventually figure this out. Indeed, I think they have already. Windows XP wasn't exactly the huge boost in sales, or cause for "upgrades" that earlier `Doze releases were.

      Although I have to say I like XP, and think it is a better `Doze in that it gives you the compatability of 9X with the stability of 2K (well, most of it anyway)
      • I think Microsoft may be hoping that consumers will see a benefit. How's this for a scenario: the entertainment industry really, really wants you to use DRM. They like the idea that your speakers, video card and monitor can participate in Palladium based DRM. Bill Gates tells them "Guys, consumers just aren't buying this shit. we're going to have to dump it." In response, the music industry, all the heavy hitters, make their entire libraries available to Palladium based media platforms for 25 cents a track.
    • And every time they want to force another upgrade cycle, all it would take is a teeny little forced OS update (what, you think "trusted computing" would let you turn that off for "trusted OSs"??) that would render the old system (hardware and software) incompatible. Office suddenly stops working? Ooops, you missed your regular upgrade again, didn't you!!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2003 @11:09PM (#6336452)
    The National Security Agency's "security-enhanced" Linux is an attempt to make Linux into a "trusted" computing platform, but that has NOTHING to do with DRM and other MPAA- and RIAA-borne stupidity.

    Security researchers are putting a lot of effort into defining trust relationships and developing guidelines for applying the term "trusted" to software. Has the software design been verified? How about the code? Who verified the design and audited the code? Have there been security problems in the past? Is the concept fundamentally compatible with security?

    Then along come the MPAA and RIAA, and they convince Microsoft (among others) to start talking about a totally fucking DIFFERENT definition of "trusted". Whereas the OLD definition of "trusted" involved concepts like integrity, secrecy, reliability, and auditability, the NEW meaning of "trusted" is essentially "crippled".

    As somebody who studies security for a living, it irritates me to see the two concepts confused. Microsoft's DRM-enabled operating systems will NOT include the features I've outlined above, and a highly "trusted" operating system could very well include software that allows you to "rip, mix, and burn" just as people are accustomed to doing today.

    Really, just who is "trusting" the DRM operating systems? Not the users-- I imagine there will be just as many viruses and exploits and bugs as before. Not software developers-- Microsoft hasn't really announced any plans to do things like, say, encrypt the swap space or integrate stack protection into their linkers, loaders, and compilers.

    In fact, the only people who are really trusting the DRM operating systems are the content industry associations. Which makes sense, as Microsoft and company are essentially doing the whole "trusted computing" thing at the behest of the MPAA's congressional whore [senate.gov].

    Please, folks, let's call a spade a spade: the DRM-enabled operating systems are NOT "trusted". They're "content-industry-friendly". They're "crippled". They're a lot of things, but they're not "trusted".

    Let's start asking for some precision of language, here.
    • Others have pointed out that, frex, since Outlook would be a "trusted application", it would follow that any code executed by Outlook, including viruses, would necessarily be "trusted" as well.

      And what about viruses or trojans that spoof the system? if the "trusted BIOS" gets cracked, which I think is inevitable, how long before we see viruses that attack the system at that level, and thereby gain access to everything else? And if they alter BIOS code, they might be impossible to remove short of reflashing
    • Really, just who is "trusting" the DRM operating systems? Not the users-- I imagine there will be just as many viruses and exploits and bugs as before.

      The cynic (realist) in me says this is a large part of the reason DRM will not be rolled out full blast from the start.

      The obvious is that MS wants users to slowly get used to the idea of having less control and real features available, in exchange for chrome essentially, and promises of security.

      Which brings up the second reason. When the inevitable ha

  • "...one of the speakers was from Microsoft research..."

    I trust Microsoft R&D to come up with good security concepts, but I don't trust Microsoft to implement the good security concepts without having giant security holes in them. Then they can make programs that monitor/protect the security holes in the other security programs, and they will have holes, too. This would be an infinite recursion, BTW.

    I can see the ad now:
    Security programs with security problems. Only from Microsoft.
  • I laughed hard at this paragraph that I see others have noticed as well:

    "We think this is a huge innovation story," said Mario Juarez, Microsoft's group product manager for the company's security business unit. "This is just an extension of the way the current version of Windows has provided innovation for players up and down the broad landscape of computing."

    Well! If this is more of that same innovation Windows is known for, we know just how worthless to the end consumer this will be! Thanks for the

  • by malia8888 (646496) on Monday June 30, 2003 @11:24PM (#6336523)
    There is nothing in trusted computing to benefit the consumer. I am hoping the word will get out to the average consumer in time for them to rebel by keeping their $$$'s to themselves.

    The very things that computer users want to be protected from--viruses and the tons of spam messages--are not addressed with these "improvements".

    As eloquently outlined in the Times article: the new encrypted computing world, even the most mundane word-processing document or e-mail message would be accompanied by a software security guard controlling who can view it, where it can be sent and even when it will be erased. Also, the secure PC is specifically intended to protect digital movies and music from online piracy. But while beneficial to the entertainment industry and corporate operations, the new systems will not necessarily be immune to computer viruses or unwanted spam e-mail messages, the two most severe irritants to PC users. "Microsoft's use of the term `trusted computing' is a great piece of doublespeak," said Dan Sokol, a computer engineer based in San Jose, Calif., who was one of the original members of the Homebrew Computing Club, the pioneering PC group. "What they're really saying is, `We don't trust you, the user of this computer.' "

    In "trusted computing" the public gets no security; the FAT entertainment industry gets fatter; and the common man is unduly scrutinized.

    Let's hope our everyday "Joe Consumer" rebels. If Intel comes out with a chip with this trusted-Big-Brother component, I hope the American consumer leaves it rotting on the shelves.

    Money talks, b.s. walks. If the public refuses to buy this garbage which is hyped to protect them, perhaps the companies will look at this trusted computing issue again and drop it in the trash can it belongs.

  • by fermion (181285) on Monday June 30, 2003 @11:32PM (#6336562) Homepage Journal
    No one seriously believes that MS can create a secure OS. What can happen is that MS, along with laws that will make circumvention activities illegal, will create enough a of a facade of security that people will trade certain current freedoms for safety and convenience. It always happens. People want convenience and simplicity.

    OTOH it looks like this stuff will only effect Intel and MS products. Personally, I have always used Apple products myself. It has protected me from MS viral licenses. It has protected me from Intel's occasional desire to track all users. It is now protecting me from silly DRM schemes that do nothing but protect antique business models. Apple has done more for security by allowing the user to turn off HTML in mail.app that MS could possibly hope to do in a decade.

    The same could be said for GNU/Linux and other non-MS users. For these users there are only three concerns. First, laws could be passed to require certain attributes in entire classes of software. For example, as the article suggests, all email and music might have to be signed with a CPU generated hash. Of course all advanced users know that such technology could be circumvented, and, even with laws against circumvention, such actions will routinely occur.

    Second, the makers of Intel clone chips might, and probably will, succumb to pressure and include security features. This would be bad because right now OSS is very tied to Intel class chips. The solution to this is to build open hardware platforms around non-Intel class chips, and create OSS projects that run on such platforms. Intel may be a slave to MS, but AMD and others might be more scared of lost sales due to OSS moving to Motorola and IBM chipsets. In five years if OSS is still tied to the Intel instruction set, and Intel is only making chips that spy on the user, there will be no one to blame.

    The third issue comes from a quote in the article
    the system will also require a new generation of computer hardware, not only replacing the computer logic board but also peripherals like mice, keyboards and video cards
    from this we can infer that MS intends to push DRM to all hardware connected to the CPU, which, of course, is the logical course of action. The issue is as above. OSS runs mostly on what is essentially MS hardware. If all MS hardware requires software that is cryptographically signed and externally validated, probably by MS related service, one wonders if OSS will exist. If OSS does exist, one wonders if it would have any purpose the user was still ultimately tied to MS licenses and security schemes.

    This has always been the danger of the single environment ecosystem. The OSS people seem to forget how inherently dependent on MS whims they are. One wonders if some diversification might be in order.

    • VERY brilliant points...

      Ok, if we dump the x86 hardware, what do we use?

      I know that Linux could be easily modified to run on something like IBM's PPC 970 chip, but will we be able to buy motherboards, hard drives, keyboards, sound cards, etc that will work with it?

      I have my doubts as to whether MS will be able to succeed in this effort... IF they do, it will have to be an incrimental thing. Suddenly having your OS refuse to let you install other software, and your hardware like the mouse refusing to ta
  • by Sebby (238625) on Monday June 30, 2003 @11:33PM (#6336568)
    The words 'Microsoft' and 'trust' do NOT go together, UNLESS 'anti' is in there somewhere too...

  • by SmurfButcher Bob (313810) on Monday June 30, 2003 @11:41PM (#6336606) Journal
    ...what you think.

    Face it, the software market is pretty much saturated from their perspective, and there isn't much room for growth on the desktop compared with previous years.

    What MS discovered, about two years ago, was that they could sell a completely different product. What MS discovered was Radio.

    Radio doesn't make money by playing songs. Radio makes money by selling its listeners. Now, take a re-think of the Trusted Platform from that perspective, and what it's purpose will be completely obvious.
  • In case you're actually interested in reading what the technologies are about, instead of just FUD. Here is The TCPA [trustedcomputing.org] and Microsoft's Next-Generation Secure Computing Base [microsoft.com] (which is what came from the Palladium Project).
    • PressPass [microsoft.com]: What function will the advisory board serve?

      The goal is to learn from each other....

      ...Microsoft has long realized that to achieve needed systemic change, it's important to involve academia early on.

      BUT, we also view this board as a two-way education channel. Ultimately, we'd like to see academia work with the industry to inculcate more security concepts into a technical education, because it's not just a technology problem or a computer science problem. ***It's a social problem***. If
  • This is the best news I have heard since 1996.

    I can not wait for Anal-intrusive DRM to be included on every windows OS and Intel PC processor on the market.

    In fact, I wish it was here right now.

    I am salivating at the prospect of LAN wide system lock outs, Entire OS installtions destroyed because of stolen/forged Serial Numbers, the inability for a persson to have 2 copies of an app their my own equiptment, the deletion of personal files and monitoring of internet usage.

    In fact, I hope they use and abuse
  • by Graabein (96715) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @12:02AM (#6336734) Homepage Journal
    Didn't I read right here on /. that the Chinese have started to develop and test their own CPU? Yup: The Dragon Chip [slashdot.org]. They've already got Linux booting on it.

    With most of the world's electronics manufacturing business in China anyway, I guess this means we'll all be running Linux on Chinese developed and manufactured hardware in a few years, while Microsoft, Intel and AMD all sit around in the wreckage of their once profitable empires wondering what went wrong.

    Here's a hint guys: You forgot what made the PC platform great in the first place: Freedom.

    Call it freedom to innovate, freedom to fsck up a computer beyond repair, freedom to write a virus or freedom to swap files. Whatever. But try taking our freedom away and you will face the consequences.

    Now that would be a deliciuos irony, wouldn't it. America and the West taking away the freedom of all computer users, and the Chinese coming to the rescue and restoring our freedom.

    • Amen (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "Here's a hint guys: You forgot what made the PC platform great in the first place: Freedom."

      You're right.

      I was there for the beginnings of the PC. We built them and bought them, even when they couldn't do much because we believed in the dream of freedom and computing and saying "fuck you" to big companies with their vision of how we should use their computers.

      Now 2 generations later, we seemed bound and determined to give it all away, just so we can watch "Star Wars" on our PC. And pay every time. An
  • While this may have been a genuine 'article', it is also possible it was a PR piece. Where someone gets a writer to write about a piece with a certain slant....that is PR. We need more of this. The NY Times article BLASTED DRM. Now we just need one of these for frivalous patents.....and for the **AA's and for all the other things slashdotters bitch about.

    I suspect however that it will become increasingly more common for these types of things to surface as journalists and reporters LOVE to take the side

  • Doublethink (Score:5, Funny)

    by TitanBL (637189) <(moc.tenretni-natit) (ta) (nodnarb)> on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @12:12AM (#6336791)
    "The company is dealing with both technical and marketing challenges presented by the new software security system. For example, Mr. Juarez, the Microsoft executive, said that if the company created a more secure side to its operating system software, customers might draw the conclusion that its current software is not as safe to use. "

    he went on to explain:

    "What I mean is that we cannot have our customers using deductive reasoning to come to an obvious conclusion which might jeopardize our market share (control). Could you imagine the implications? We would rather them just trust us - and relax - big broth.. uhhh... I mean Microsoft has it all taken care of"
  • All your trust are belong to us!

    - MicroSoft
  • ...your computer protects itself from YOU!

    Oh shit wait a minute.

  • by ebyrob (165903) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @02:00AM (#6337257) Homepage
    From the article:

    Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman, told a technology conference in Washington on Wednesday. "This technology can make our country more secure and prevent the nightmare vision of George Orwell at the same time."

    Yes Bill that's right. You can usher in the technology that may bring about Orwell's vision and at the same time help it slide through by simply claiming the exact opposite from the other side of your mouth.

    Dyuh... It's somehow related to the truth, perhaps that means I should believe it.

At the source of every error which is blamed on the computer you will find at least two human errors, including the error of blaming it on the computer.

Working...