Security with the Trusted Platform Module

Trusted Computing

Article from Issue 206/2018

The Trusted Platform Module on your computer's motherboard could lead to better security for your Linux system.

The security of any operating system (OS) layer depends on the security of every layer below it. If the CPU can't be trusted to execute code correctly, there's no way to run secure software on that CPU. If the bootloader has been tampered with, you cannot trust the kernel that the bootloader boots. Secure Boot allows the firmware to validate a bootloader before executing it, but if the firmware itself has been backdoored, you have no way to verify that Secure Boot functioned correctly.

This problem seems insurmountable: You can only trust the OS to verify that the firmware is untampered with if the firmware itself has not been tampered with. How can you verify the state of a system without having to trust it first?

The answer lies in a set of technologies collectively referred to as Trusted Computing. A consortium of companies called the Trusted Computing Group [1] maintains the specifications related to Trusted Computing. At the heart of the Trusted Computing environment is a small hardware component called a Trusted Platform Module (TPM). The TPM is a chip connected by bus to the system motherboard, and sometimes it can be retrofitted as a module (Figure 1). TPMs are not fast or powerful – almost anything that can be done on a TPM can be done much faster on the CPU. Neither can the TPM see what's happening on the rest of the system; TPMs know only what the rest of the computer chooses to tell them.


Use Express-Checkout link below to read the full article (PDF).

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF
Price $2.95
(incl. VAT)

Buy Linux Magazine

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content

  • Virtualizing Rootkits

    A new generation of rootkits avoids detection by virtualizing the compromised system – and the user doesn't notice a thing.

  • The State of Secure Boot

    Opinions differ on the UEFI boot security system, but one thing is certain: Secure Boot is here to stay. We thought it was time to ask, "How hard is it to boot a popular Linux distribution in a UEFI Secure Boot environment?"

  • FSF Weighs in on Secure Boot

    Free Software Foundation considers Restricted Boot a threat to user freedom.

  • UEFI and Secure Boot

    The coming Windows 8 implementation of UEFI with Secure Boot adds an extra layer of complexity for some Linux users. We look at the problem and two solutions from Fedora and Canonical.

  • Shuttleworth Calls for Declarative Firmware

    Ubuntu founder denounces insecurity in proprietary, close-source software blobs.

comments powered by Disqus

Direct Download

Read full article as PDF:

Price $2.95


njobs Europe
Njobs Netherlands Njobs Deutschland Njobs United Kingdom Njobs Italia Njobs France Njobs Espana Njobs Poland
Njobs Austria Njobs Denmark Njobs Belgium Njobs Czech Republic Njobs Mexico Njobs India Njobs Colombia