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Apple makes Trusted Computing cool
Published: 2006-08-02

LAS VEGAS--Apple Computer is doing far more to help the adoption of the controversial security technology known as Trusted Computing than other proponents, Mac security researcher Bruce Potter told attendees on Wednesday at the Black Hat Briefings.

Through the coolness of the iPod and its iTunes Music Service, the company has already made another controversial technology--digital-rights management--widely accepted by the the company's consumers, Potter argued, pointing to the more than 1 billion songs sold by the company.

"More than anything happening on the enterprise side, it's the coolness and the consumers that will get this accepted," said Potter, a member of the Shmoo Group, a collection of security professionals.

Among other things, Apple uses the hardware component of Trusted Computing, known as the Trusted Platform Module (TPM), to verify that the company's PowerPC-to-Intel interpreter only works on authentic Apple hardware. While Apple does not ship a tool for checking a Mac's TPM, Potter and the Shmoo Group installed a Linux distribution and specialized tools to analyze the data created by the hardware.

The Trusted Computing Platform uses encryption and specialized memory to secure a computer's data, allowing only the application that created a file to access that data and allowing hard drive data to be locked to a specific computer, for example. However, critics worry that, without adequate policy guidelines, the technology could be used by third parties to undermine consumers' rights to their own data.

The U.S. Army recently required that all personal computer procured by servicemen use the latest version of the TPM.

About 20 million computers, most of them laptops, shipped with the Trusted Platform Module in 2005, according to the Trusted Computing Group. Apple is expected to ship 10 million Macs, the majority of them Intel-based, in 2006.

Posted by: Robert Lemos
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Apple makes Trusted Computing cool 2006-08-03
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