February 13, 2006
The Trusted Computing Group has laid out a preliminary framework for "trusted storage," a hard drive that would use encryption as a means of protecting data.
The TCG released the Trusted Software Stack version 1.2 on Monday, with features that include direct anonymous attestation, among others. But it is the trusted hard drive specification, due in preliminary form at the end of March, which should interest consumers and IT managers alike.
At the RSA Conference this week in San Jose, Seagate said it was showing off a prototype hard drive fully encrypted using some of the early work in trusted storage. A final specification could be in place by June, according to Michael Willett, senior director at Seagate Research, part of hard-drive maker Seagate Technology.
"The work's been going on for a couple of years now," Willett said in an interview. "We're shooting for the end of March, possibly early April for an internal spec. It's all of the hard drive companies, the flash people – all the technical guys are involved. We're here today to let the rest of the world know what we're doing."
Preventing unauthorized applications to write data to the drive could help prevent worms and other viruses, which in the trusted model would need to explicitly authorize applications to write data to a trusted storage unit.
A "trusted" platform is defined by what is known as the "root of trust" – which, inside a PC or a server, will likely be a Trusted Platform Module. TPMs were first architected by the TCG, which Microsoft helped form in 2003 in its bid to architect its Palladium digital-rights-management initiative, later referred to as the Next-Generation Secure Computing Base and later Trusted Computing. Microsoft's latest "trusted" disclosure has been to reveal that untrusted drivers will be blocked by Vista, its upcoming operating system.