IBM unveils security for chips

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IBM will unveil a technology on Monday that aims to bring a new level of security to devices such as PDAs and mobile phones that were previously considered vulnerable to attacks.

“SecureBlue”, as the technology is called, will enable encryption of data to protect it on the core processors, or central chips, that power such devices. IBM’s initiative might put pressure on processor makers Intel and AMD to step up security on their chips.

The invention hard-wires encryption capabilities into a section of the central processor chip, giving a hardware solution that is faster and more efficient than existing security software. IBM hopes to license the technology to chipmakers.

“More than half of enterprise data is not on the servers any more, it’s all over the place – on your Blackberry or your phone or laptop or with your business partners,” Charles Palmer, manager of security and privacy at IBM Research, told the Financial Times. “These devices are in harm’s way, but if they are subject to abuse or attack they will not yield their secrets if they have SecureBlue.”

Dan Olds, analyst with the Gabriel Consulting Group, said: “I believe you are going to see more and more of these security products embedded because of the amount of sensitive information flowing to non-traditional devices like PDAS and cellphones,” Mr Olds said. “On corporate systems, these are the weakest link.”

Intel has been working to incorporate security into its chips with a technology codenamed LaGrande, while AMD has a similar project called Presidio.

Richard Doherty, analyst with the Envisioneering group, said: “You’d expect some sort of response to this from these two, because they haven’t delivered on the demands from enterprises for more secure platforms.

“We think this will be a wake-up call for them to look at this – SecureBlue represents a technology breakthrough in getting security down to this scale.”

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