National Semi expands TCG lineup

Chip maker National Semiconductor Corp. has introduced two new devices that support Trusted Computing Group (TCG) specifications in the latest effort to boost hardware-based security for desktop and notebook computers.

IBM Corp. officials have already chosen National's SafeKeeper Trusted Input/Output devices for the motherboards of ThinkCentre desktop systems, as part of the IBM Embedded Security Subsystem.

National's devices combine embedded firmware with a Trusted Platform Module, a microcontroller that stores passwords, digital certificates and encryption keys.

Such hardware-based security is considered much less susceptible to attacks than traditional approaches to security, and it is gaining increasing attention from officials struggling to harden their information technology protections.

TCG was formed in April 2003 to promote industry standard specifications for embedded hardware approaches to security through developments of hardware building blocks and software interfaces across multiple computing platforms.

Principal movers in TCG's effort are Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp., IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. Dozens of other major industry players are listed as active supporters.

The group is also developing the Trusted Network Computing Base, an open specification that will comply with all TCG products and is aimed at helping network operators establish policies for minimum levels of trust that endpoints must achieve before connecting to networks.

That specification should be available by the end of this year, TCG officials said.

SafeKeeper for desktops is available now. A version for notebooks will be available in the fourth quarter of this year.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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