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Future encrypted chips could handcuff end users

Cyber Rights group demands public scrutiny

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Report A UK-based organisation has called on chip manufacturers to allow public scrutiny of their future plans to allow owners of PCs control of their systems. Cyber-Rights and Cyber-Liberties UK said that future microprocessors might include the ability to carry out cryptographic processes that could prevent applications from running unless signed with the correct cryptographic key. But, warns the group, while such features could provide benefits, such as virus protection and for corporations to ensure only the software they had authories were run, there are dangers in this approach too. The authors of the report warn that users would not know such chips were reliable, and would also want to know who is controlling such features. If manufacturers, such as Intel, determine whose signature can validate a software program, PC owners are denied the right to manage their own systems. Users may also want to write their own programs or run programs written by developers who don't have an agreement with chip manufacturers, the report says. There are also reliability problems, the authors say. "If signing processes are to built into chips, or if chips are to run encrypted code, we need owner control of them and also publicly accountable scrutiny of the way the technical and procedural mechanisms work," the report says. More details can be found here ®

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