Trusted/Treacherous Computing

Jurjen Bokma

November 2007

As a founding member of the Trusted Computing Group [12], HP builds into its PCs a so-called TPM, a Trusted Platform Module. This device can readily be used byt the OS to identify the individual machine it is built into. Depending on the implementation of the chip, it could also be used to restrict the use of a PC to purposes approved of by the hardware manufacturer[13]. It can certainly be used by the manufacturer of an OS to put whatever restrictions they like on the use of the PC. From a vendor lock-in point of view[14], it seems wise to demand of a PC manufacturer that they offer hardware without this `feature'. If hardware with such a module is favoured for other reasons, or even, perhaps, for the very existence of it, the least we want to demand is that the module can be turned off by the BIOS in such a way that it cannot be turned on again by the OS while the machine is running.

[12] I presume Trusted must be an adjective pertaining to Computing.

[13] Do a Google search on "Treacherous Computing".

[14] I will not dig into ethics nor politics, nor even corporate warfare here :)