Microsoft readies kit for security initiative

Microsoft readies kit for security initiative

Microsoft plans to release a preliminary software development kit for its Next-Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB) security technology, also known as Palladium.

The release is scheduled for the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles in October.

The kit will give developers an early opportunity to work with the NGSCB code in preparation for developing applications that take advantage of the technology, according to Microsoft.

The company hopes to introduce NGSCB itself in the Longhorn version of the Windows client operating system, which is due in 2005.

"[The kit] will give developers the ability to work with the code. It will be very preliminary and basic," Microsoft group product manager for Windows Trusted Platform Technologies, Mario Juarez, said.

It will be an API set that functions with "standard" programming languages, Microsoft officials said.

NGSCB is intended to provide for trusted operations on a PC and requires changes to the Intel CPU architecture, meaning users would need to buy new PCs to take advantage of the technology.

Microsoft was working with Intel on redesign of some CPU, chipset, and I/O components that would be required to accommodate NGSCB, Juarez said.

NGSCB focuses on enabling strong process isolation, sealed storage, a secure I/O path to and from the user, and attestation.

Attestation, according to Microsoft, is the ability for a piece of code to digitally sign or attest to a piece of data and further ensure the signature recipient that the data was constructed by an unforgeable, cryptographically identified software stack, according to Microsoft.

"Basically, (attestation) is a way for software to be authenticated," Suarez said.

NGSCB providedan environment for building a trusted infrastructure, he said. It is initially eyed for Windows clients, with servers to be a focus afterward.

However, the technology has been criticised as potentially curtailing user control over their own PCs, potentially eroding fair-use rights for digital music and movie files.

Suarez said Microsoft's intention was not to build an overarching digital rights management scheme with NGSCB, but acknowledged that it could be used for that purpose.

NGSCB is first intended for enterprise business and government use and will not make its way to home or consumer use for some time after that, Suarez said.

"We certainly understand the passion around the issues," he said. "We don't think those issues are particularly germane to what we're doing."

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