Microsoft announced this week a new security-focused processor that will be on future Windows equipped computers. The chip is called Pluton and is developed in partnership with AMD, Intel and Qualcomm – all known for making chipsets that are on PCs with the operating system. In addition, Pluton is based on the same chip-to-cloud technology used to protect Azure Sphere and Xbox consoles.
According to Microsoft, Pluton will replace the Trusted Platform Module (TPM), a hardware component used to help securely store keys and measurements that verify system integrity. This protocol has been present in Windows for more than 10 years and is located on a separate chip from the CPU. In other words, countless processes involving critical data pass between the processing unit and the TPM.
Criminals have developed ways to steal information that travels on that bridge between the two components, gaining temporary physical access to the computer. That’s where Pluton comes in, as it is located inside the CPU itself, eliminating the communication channel that existed between it and the TPM – and consequently preventing an attacker from attacking that channel, which will now no longer exist.
Windows devices with Pluton will be able to offer more security to credentials, user identities, encryption keys and personal data. None of this information can be removed from Pluton, even if the attacker installs malware or has complete physical possession of the machine. This is because the processor is isolated from the rest of the system, helping to ensure that emerging attack techniques, such as speculative execution, do not have access to the main material.
Pluton also provides the exclusive SHACK (Secure Hardware Cryptography Key) technology, which ensures that keys are never exposed outside of protected hardware, even for Pluton’s own firmware. By the way, it also keeps the software firmware updated throughout the PC ecosystem, being integrated into the Windows Update process, which distributes updates automatically.
“Our vision for the future of Windows computers is security at the core, embedded in the CPU, for a more integrated approach, where hardware and software are closely integrated, removing entire attack vectors. This revolutionary security processor design will make it significantly more difficult for attackers to hide in the operating system, as well as improving our ability to protect against physical attacks, preventing theft of credentials and encryption keys, and providing the ability to recover from security bugs. software, ”Microsoft said in a press release.
There is still no prediction of when the first PCs with Pluton will be launched.
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