Citrix explores Trusted Platform Module options

Citrix has joined the growing ranks of companiesexploring the use of controversial Trusted Platform Module (TPM) technologyto enhance security options in its software.TPM, a specification developed by the Trusted Computing Group and endorsedby Intel and many motherboard manufacturers, utilises a separate securitymicrochip for the storage and transmission of keys, passwords and digitalcertificates.

Citrix has joined the growing ranks of companies exploring the use of controversial Trusted Platform Module (TPM) technology to enhance security options in its software.

TPM, a specification developed by the Trusted Computing Group and endorsed by Intel and many motherboard manufacturers, utilises a separate security microchip for the storage and transmission of keys, passwords and digital certificates. Proponents of TPM argue that hardware-level security is less vulnerable to attacks than software-based systems, which can often easily be thwarted if attackers have physical access to a machine's hard drive.

Chris Mayers, principal security architect for Citrix, told ZDNet Australia that the company is actively experimenting with the use of TPM technology for future software packages.

He declined to discuss specific release dates or plans for individual products, but said that the ability to securely store digital certificates would help encourage more widespread certificate use.

Citrix is best-known for its Presentation Server virtualisation package and various flavours of remote access software, all of which could potentially utilise TPM to provide a higher level of authentication before connecting users to enterprise networks.

TPM is also being promoted by Microsoft, which has incorporated support for the platform into the business versions of its forthcoming Vista operating system.

OS-level support should also make it easier for independent software vendors (ISVs) to develop Windows applications that utilise TPM.

The TPM concept has not been without controversy. Opponents argue that such chips can be used to enforce high-level digital rights management (DRM), making it impossible to access digital content except on a single specified machine.

TPM also proved a major stumbling block to attempts by enthusiasts to run Windows XP on Intel-based Macintoshes, although that problem has essentially evaporated following Apple's release of its Boot Camp beta software to perform the same task.

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