IBM builds security chip into NetVista for PKI functions

IBM builds security chip into NetVista for PKI functions

By William Jackson

GCN Staff

By embedding a security subsystem in the NetVista desktop system, IBM Corp. is promoting it as a secure end-point for public-key infrastructures.

The NetVista stores PKI credentials in hardware, providing smart-card functions for a specific computer. The security architecture comes from the Trusted Computing Platform Alliance, or TCPA, a consortium of 139 companies that released Version 1 of its specifications last month.

'We knew if we came up with something unique and nonstandard, nobody would use it,' said Clain Anderson, program director for marketing integration in IBM's personal systems group.

Although NetVista machines with security chips have been available for about a year, 'with the TCPA going public, we can talk about this more,' Anderson said. 'We're making a big splash out of it.'

Applications for the NetVista come from TCPA members DigitalPersona Inc. of Redwood City, Calif.; Entrust Technologies Inc. of Plano, Texas; Ensure Technologies Inc. of Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Intel Corp.

Private-key data can be stored in the security chip rather than on a hard drive where it might be vulnerable to hackers. The chip executes private-key functions for encrypting e-mail, documents and files, as well as signing them digitally.

The chip has several encryption interfaces, including the Microsoft Cryptography Application Programming Interface used by Internet Explorer, and the Public-Key Cryptography Standard 11 used by Netscape Navigator browsers. It also supports several strong authentication technologies, including 128-character pass phrases, biometrics and proximity detectors.

The embedded security subsystem is available now on the NetVista S40p and A40p models.

The S40p, starting at $1,695, has an 866-MHz Pentium III processor, a 20G hard drive and up to 512M of memory. The A40p has a 933-MHz Pentium III, a 30G hard drive and up to 512M of memory, starting at $2,155.

Contact IBM at 888-746-7426.

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