Feeds

Non-Intel Processor Serial Numbers around for 20 years

We're all doomed

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Chipzilla's much-maligned PSN is not the first system serial number. Sun has had a hardware serial number coded into each system (as have most Unix hardware vendors) since the early 80s. Most large (aka expensive) Unix software is usually locked to a certain system serial number to prevent piracy. "Sun puts a serial number -- termed a 'host ID' -- on the non-volatile ram (NVRAM) chip on all its motherboards. It's roughly equivalent to a PC's BIOS, but easily removable just in case some part of the motherboard craps out. The host ID is rather short, but the chances of having two systems with the same host ID in the same state or province are small," writes reader Larry Knox. Chipzilla's PSN isn't guaranteed to be unique either, but -- as Intel is at pains to remind world + dog -- the main benefit of a PSN is to system administrators in large corporates where the chances of two chips sharing the same number are pretty remote. And since this was first posted, readers have supplied us with some more non-Intel PSNs for you. First: "The earliest 'serial number' implementation I've heard of is by Alpha Micro. Each system had a unique SSD chip which software interrogated to check it was on the licensed system. When upgrading, the SSD chip would be moved to the new system." Second: "Apart from UNIX boxes - Acorn machines since the RiscPC all had a 48-bit unique (guaranteed unique, and not just because so few of them were ever made ;)) serial numbers, used for copy protection. In fact, companies like Dallas Semiconductor make a huge range of ID chips to be put into electronic products, all with guaranteed unique numbers laser-etched into the silicon. A lot go into dongles, but many also go into machines - we serial number our products electronically so we can track support better... but as they're car radios, I don't think this is much of a problem. :)" So there we have it -- government departments, the military, hospitals and suchlike have been using Unix boxes for years now, and each one has had a CPU serial number on them all that time and civilisation doesn't appear to have come to an end. So will you please all stop banging on about PSN now? The only risk it poses is to make the use of illegally copied software more difficult -- but of course, that was what the 'privacy' protestors were really worried about all along, wasn't it? ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.