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3GSM Intel has joined Orange and Visa International to better protect premium digital content and transactions on mobile handsets. The company will use a combination of hardware and software to provide more more security for consumers to pay for online music or video, the company announced this week at 3GSM in Cannes.

The new Intel Wireless Trusted Platform is comparable with solutions Intel has developed for desktop PCs. Connected to the motherboard or the inner circuitry is a Trusted Platform Module, which contains a unique digital signature of the platform's software configuration. When booted, the digital signature is recalculated and compared to previous signatures. If the signature can't be validated, devices are notified of a change in the reported platform's state. It will not only protect users against viruses and software corruption, but also secures content delivery and downloads.

Orange will integrate its Orange Operators Virtual Machine (OVM) technology, a middleware environment targeted at hosting security demanding services, with the Intel Wireless Trusted Platform. Orange and Visa both hope to develop a secure payment solution that eliminates the possibly of payments transactions being conducted if the mobile phone has been stolen or lost.

At present mobile handsets mostly rely on software for security purposes. That has a couple of drawbacks, including a high energy uptake, in particular with encryption-based solutions. With hardware, this isn’t really a problem.

Intel stresses it will not take away business from DRM or anti virus software manufacturers. Those applications can still run on top of Intel’s platform. ®

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