Five PC companies have taken the first steps in an industry-wide initiative to make hardware and software more secure to give customers confidence in using machines for e-business.
Compaq, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Intel and Microsoft announced the formation of the Trusted Computing Platform Alliance, which will develop a standards-based hardware and software specification that will let PC makers offer a more trusted and secure personal computer platform.
In addition, the alliance will invite other PC companies to join in the effort. On 19 November a founding conference will be hosted by Compaq in Houston, Texas.
The alliance believes the PC is an integral link in the ecommerce chain and it wants to make it more stable and trusted. By trusted, the alliance means the ability for a user of a computer system to feel confident that they know who and what they are talking to, that the communication is confidential, and that the information is transmitted accurately.
"Unsecured PCs inhibit e-business. We are reaching the limits of our ability to ensure trust in software alone," said Ed Yang, chief technical officer of HP's computer products organisation.
Although formal work on the specification has not yet begun, the alliance hopes that by the second half of next year, it will have developed a new hardware, BIOS and operating system specification.
The specification will define security operations including protected storage of confidential information, generation of random numbers used to create public and private encryption keys, and electronic signalling of data used to authenticate the identity of the sender.
The completed specification will be licensed to companies through a verification and implementation process. The alliance will choose an existing industry organisation to own and license the specification.
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