Tuesday, April 18, 2006

IBM Researchers and Engineers to Create 'SecureBlue' World

IBM has announced a breakthrough new technology designed to greatly increase the security of consumer products, medical devices, government applications and digital media. Developed by IBM Research and codenamed 'SecureBlue', the new technology helps enable mainframe-inspired security previously only available in secure data centres.

"With this technology, IBM is the first in the industry to enable strongly secure devices and products in a manner never before possible," says Bevan Lock, IBM South Africa Systems Evangelist. "SecureBlue protects the confidentiality and integrity of information on a device even from an adversary that has physical access to or physical control of the device."

As the use of various forms of digital devices becomes increasingly widespread and more essential, and information becomes more distributed and thus more vulnerable, this kind of strong security becomes increasingly important since devices can be lost or stolen.

SecureBlue is a security architecture that can be built into a microprocessor chip which provides capabilities that have not been previously available in embedded processor products. It protects the security of microprocessor chips as well as the security of an entire microprocessor-based device. Because it is based on secure hardware rather than software techniques, it provides strong protection for secrets and strong defences against reverse-engineering and tampering.

With mainframe-inspired security, SecureBlue can be used to protect the confidentiality of all the information on a device including documents, presentations and software as well as the keys that are used for communications security or digital signatures.

"Security is the highest priority in a data centre and in a secure network - but it is only half the equation. To have a truly secure system, security must be addressed end to end - from the data centre all the way to the end user," Lock says. "SecureBlue has the potential to be a security 'seal of approval' in industries such as consumer, medical, government and defence as well as digital media."

Cryptography-based protection against unauthorised access is a security feature normally reserved for high-end computers, making it difficult for hackers to break into or corrupt electronic systems. By providing the overlaying 'on chip' security layer, SecureBlue removes a major barrier to the widespread use of crypto-based strong protection. While encryption should be applied wherever data exists at any given time - whether being processed, stored or transmitted over a network, traditionally its use outside the data centre has been costly and impractical because it requires a great deal of processing power to constantly encrypt and decrypt data.

SecureBlue lays the groundwork for strong security to be built viably and efficiently into the processors that lie at the heart of even low-cost, consumer electronic products, and can greatly improve security in our network-centric world.

IBM Technology Collaboration Solutions will collaborate with clients and partners across key consumer electronic, medical, government and digital media industries in the integration of SecureBlue into products and solutions. IBM Technology Collaboration Solutions will license the technology, provide engineering, collaboration and design services to implement SecureBlue into customer designs, and even help manufacture the product for clients.

"Security is of paramount importance in electronic systems, as more and more personal and financial data is being transmitted and stored electronically. Exposures exist anywhere that data resides, which is increasingly moving from secure data centres to less secure PCs, cell phones, and PDAs that are attached to equally vulnerable wireless networks," Lock says.

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