Heavyweights form alliance for 'trusted computing'

Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM, Intel Corp.

Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM, Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp. today announced an open alliance to ensure that all PCs are secure for electronic business transactions.

The group, called the TCPA (Trusted Computing Platform Alliance), has found that companies' local area networks lack standard system hardware functions necessary for a secure platform. As a result, these companies need to simplify how they handle security on their networks.

"Unsecured PCs inhibit e-business. We are reaching the limits of our ability to ensure trust in software alone," said Ed Yang, vice president and chief technical officer of HP's Computer Products organization.

The TCPA will therefore develop a new hardware, BIOS and operating system specification so vendors can provide a more trusted and secure PC platform based on common industry standards. The specification is intended to increase e-business transactions in the current infrastructure and create new markets and applications.

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 signaling of data used to authenticate the identity of the sender.

Proposal by middle of next year

The TCPA plans to have a proposal for its specification ready by mid-2000. It will then choose an existing industry organization to own the specification.

Compaq, HP, IBM, Intel and Microsoft invite other companies to join the TCPA and participate in developing the new security specification.

More information is available at www.trustedpc.org.