Hackers are exploiting the flaws of devices low-level firmware for quite sometime now. The appearance of TPM (Trusted Platform Module) has paved the way for new level of security for hardware and cryptographic keys. However, Christopher Tarnovsky has already shown during the Black Hat Washington DC conference in 2010 that it was possible to hack into a TPM.
Microsoft recognizes some of these security flaws and admits that in particular situation like when an attacker can steal or temporarily can gain physical access to a PC can compromise the security of hardware. Generally it requires tapping into the communication channel between the TPM and the CPU which is basically a bus interface.
Microsoft Pluton Security Chip. © Microsoft.
In order to mitigate this issue Microsoft announced Pluton Processor, a security chip that will be integrated inside the future Intel, AMD and Qualcomm processors. Keeping the communication between TPM and CPU out of hacker’s reach. This also means, it will be almost impossible for hackers to tap into the communication bus even if the computer is stolen.
Microsoft initially implemented Pluton in the gaming console Xbox One back 2013 making it even harder for hackers to hack the console or prevent the system from running pirated games. They later on implemented the same chip on Microsoft’s very own Azure cloud infrastructure. Improving the technology, this idea is now being developed in partnership with top CPU manufacturer to further secure the Windows 10 based future devices.
As Microsoft stated earlier,”Our vision for the future of Windows PCs is security at the very core, built into the CPU, where hardware and software are tightly integrated in a unified approach designed to eliminate entire vectors of attack.”
As far as the possible availability of such processor is concern, we can’t confirm any more specifics. However, it seems like all the top CPU manufacturer has shown their interest to work with Microsoft on this regard.