Microsoft has announced a new chip called Pluton that will improve security on its future Windows PC. Microsoft Pluton is a security chip that will be integrated into the CPUs of next generation computers and laptops with Windows. It will also replace the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) which currently provides security to the entire Windows ecosystem and hardware using cryptographic keys. With Pluton, Microsoft is bringing Xbox-level security to Windows devices and is taking the help of Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm to achieve this.
According to Microsoft, the Pluton chipset will use the same security technologies it provided to Xbox, which is a very secure hardware and software ecosystem in the computing world. Pluton was created to prevent attack vectors responsible for compromising PCs, such as the Specter and Meltdown security flaws. These two CPU security flaws have been more fatal for Windows PCs than any other exploit in existence.
Microsoft is partnering with Intel on Pluton, which is in line with Intel’s 2018 announcement that PC processors will be redesigned to protect against this type of attack. Qualcomm and AMD are also investing in Microsoft’s efforts to increase security on future devices that will run Windows. The reason Qualcomm is here, despite being one of the largest smartphone chip makers, is its partnership for Surface devices running on its mobile platform.
The existing TPM modules used by these companies are not integrated into the CPU, which gives hackers the ability to inject malicious software as data flows between the CPU and the TPM using the bus interface. TPM is what powers the BitLocker and Windows Hello security programs on Windows PCs. With Pluton’s integration into the CPU, the data transfer path for security protocols will be minimized, thus giving hackers less chance of stealing data. Microsoft’s Xbox One uses the same technology in which the security chip is built into the console’s CPU to protect data from pirated versions of games that may have potentially harmful strings.
“Windows devices with Pluton will use the Pluton security processor to protect credentials, user identities, encryption keys and personal data. None of this information can be removed from Pluton even if an attacker has installed malware or has complete physical possession of the PC, “said David Weston, Director of Enterprise and OS Security at Microsoft. According to Weston, this information is stored on the chip which is isolated from the rest of the system.
The Pluton processor also provides the unique SHACK (Secure Hardware Cryptography Key) technology which ensures that important information does not go outside the protected hardware, even if the Pluton firmware itself requests the information. Microsoft claims that this technology provides an “unprecedented level of security” for Windows users.
Microsoft is building a solid ecosystem with Pluton chips that will rely on the company’s cloud for updates. Patches will be released monthly to all Pluton-equipped devices. All partner companies, including Qualcomm, Intel and AMD will integrate Pluton chips into their processors for PCs, but it’s not immediately clear when that will happen. Microsoft also said Pluton will be available for custom designed CPUs.
The Microsoft Pluton chip offers solid security available for the company’s Xbox One and later gaming consoles.
- Microsoft has announced a new security chip called Pluton.
- The Pluton chip will be integrated into the CPUs of Intel, AMD and Qualcomm.
- Microsoft has said the Pluton chip will provide PCs with Xbox-like security.