Army to require built-in security

Editor's note: This story was updated at 1 p.m. July 27, 2006, to correct that Winbound, not National Semiconductor, offers the Trusted Platform Module. National Semiconductor sold this product line to Winbond May 4, 2005.

In the next few weeks, the Army’s Network Enterprise Technology Command (Netcom) will announce that the Trusted Platform Module is a servicewide requirement for hardware-based security in all of its new computers, according to Army officials. TPM will take advantage of security features in Microsoft’s forthcoming Vista operating system.

Before Netcom publicly issued its TechCon guidelines, the Army Small Computer Program (ASCP) acted on the requirement in its solicitation and last buy in March. “We didn’t want to put computers into the Army inventory that will have to be replaced prematurely, so Netcom asked us to institute the requirement before the actual issuance of the TechCon,” said Micki LaForgia, ASCP project director.

The upcoming technical guidelines require TPM Version 1.2 as a standard Army configuration baseline for all of the service’s computers. The service will apply the standard configuration during a consolidated purchase next month.

Developed by the Trusted Computing Group, TPM is a dedicated security chip on the motherboard that conforms to the group’s standard specifications. Chipmakers have developed TPM versions of their chipsets, such as Intel’s LaGrande Technology and Advanced Micro Device’s Secure Execution Mode. IBM’s product has two TPM-compliant chips -- the Embedded Security Subsystem and ThinkVantage Technology. Hewlett-Packard, Fujitsu and Winbond also offer TPM chips.

The Trusted Computing Group was founded in 2003 to develop vendor-neutral standard specifications for hardware and software security that works across multiple platforms. The group has 141 industry members, and many of those contributed to and instituted the standard specifications.

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