Today's personal computing environment is built on flexible, extensible, and feature-rich
platforms that enable consumers to take advantage of a wide variety of devices,
applications, and services. Unfortunately, the evolution of shared networks and
the Internet has made computers more susceptible to attacks at the hardware, software,
and operating system levels. Increasing existing security measures, such as adding
more firewalls and creating password protection schemes, can slow data delivery
and frustrate users. Using only software-based security measures to protect existing
computers is starting to reach the point of diminishing returns.
These new problems have created the need for a trustworthy computing platform.
Users want computers that provide both ease-of-use and protection from malicious
programs that can damage their computers or access their personal information.
Because they use their computers to process and store more and more valuable and
important data, users need a platform that addresses their data security, personal
privacy, and system integrity needs.
The next-generation secure computing base (NGSCB) is a combination of new hardware
and operating system features that provides a solid foundation on which privacy-
and security-sensitive software can be built. NGSCB does not affect the software
running in the main operating system; rather, NGSCB-capable computers provide
an isolated execution With NGSCB-capable computers, users can choose to work within
the standard operating system environment using their existing applications, services,
and devices without any changes, or they can choose to run critical processes
by using NGSCB-trusted components that exist in a separate, protected operating
On commercial computer platforms, it is not feasible to restrict the firmware,
device hardware, drivers, and applications sufficiently to provide adequate process
isolation. NGSCB avoids this conflict by allowing both secure and mainstream operating
systems to coexist on the same computer.
Only an NGSCB-trusted application, also called a nexus computing agent (NCA),
can run securely within the protected operating environment. The user defines
specific policies that determine which trusted applications can run in the protected
operating environment. The program code does not need to be signed in order to
run on an NGSCB-capable computer.
following core elements provide the protected operating environment for trusted
The protected operating environment isolates a secure area of memory that is used
to process data with higher security requirements.
storage mechanism uses encryption to help ensure the privacy of NGSCB data that
persists on the hard disk of NGSCB-capable computers.
This occurs when a piece of code digitally signs and attests to a piece of data,
helping to confirm to the recipient that the data was constructed by a cryptographically
identifiable software stack.
paths to the user
By encrypting input and output, the system creates a secure path from the keyboard
and mouse to trusted applications and from those applications to a region of the
computer screen. These secure paths ensure that valuable information remains private
Microsoft is initially designing NGSCB features and services for the next 32-bit
version of the Windows operating system, and plans are underway to support other
platforms as well.
In NGSCB, the protected operating environment provides a restricted and protected
address space for applications and services that have higher security requirements.
The primary feature of the protected operating environment is curtained memory,
a secure area of memory within an otherwise open operating system.
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