Intel Deals With Security at the Chip Level

SAN JOSE, Calif. — If firewalls, routers and filters can’t protect against hackers and other computer attacks, why not address the problem at the semiconductor level?

That’s the thinking behind a couple of initiatives announced Tuesday by Intel . The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip making giant said it has launched a new technology, code-named LaGrande and partnered to protect upcoming corporate notebooks.

Intel president Paul Otellini Monday said LaGrande was designed to protect data typed into keyboards, shown on monitors and stored in memory. The technology is expected to be included in Intel’s upcoming Prescott chip line, which has been named the successor to the Pentium 4 chip sometime in the second half of 2003.

LaGrande is part sponsored by the Trusted Computing Platform Alliance (TCPA), which is made up of companies like Intel, IBM , Microsoft , and Hewlett-Packard .

To add another layer of security to its wireless chips, Intel said it would work with another TCPA founder, VeriSign , on corporate notebooks based on Intel’s upcoming Banias processor.

The two Silicon Valley-based companies say since wireless Local Area Networks (LANs) are becoming more commonplace, they will focus on giving IT managers a platform rooted in strong authentication, authorization, digital signatures, encryption and more secure messaging.

The paring of VeriSign technology and Intel chips transforms any TPM-enabled Banias processor-based notebook PC into a “digital credential” that can then be used to perform many e-business functions in the corporate IT environment, such as single sign-on, more secure remote access, and trusted peer-to-peer computing.

“Customers are increasingly striving to help mobile employees become more productive by making trusted, wireless access as simple as possible,” said Anil Pereira, executive vice president and general manager of VeriSign’s enterprise and service provider division. “Our collaboration with Intel will enable employees to use security enhanced Banias processor-based notebook PCs to remotely access their corporate network much more easily, with fewer steps for authentication and without a separate hardware token.”

Under the multi-year agreement VeriSign will tweak its digital certificates and Personal Trust Agent (PTA) for Banias. PC OEMs are expected to get their hands on the chip in the first half of 2003 along with a related chipset code named Odem.

Both initiatives are expected to meet with some resistance from privacy advocates who are leery of technology that watches their every move.

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