Intel and Verisign Announced Processor-based Authentication

In what might become a significant blow to competitors, Intel and Verisign announced that Intel's upcoming line of mobile processors (code-named Banias) will support Verisign's digital certificate and Personal Trust Agent (PTA) technology.

By storing users' digital certificates and attributes in hardware, it's theoretically more difficult to compromise the certificates and attributes through network connections. Verisign said that by integrating the two technologies, a PC is thereby transformed into a "digital credential that can then be used to perform many e-business functions in the corporate IT environment, such as single sign-on, more secure remote access, and trusted peer-to-peer computing."

"Our collaboration with Intel will enable employees to use security enhanced Banias processor-based notebook PCs to remotely access their corporate network much more easily, with fewer steps for authentication and without a separate hardware token," said Anil Pereira, executive vice president and general manager of VeriSign's enterprise and service provider division.

"Our work together will enable a new generation of safer, mobile wireless computing, bringing a wide range of security enhanced applications and software for future Banias PC users," said Anand Chandrasekher, vice president and general manager of Intel's Mobile Platforms Group. "This is a significant step in addressing authentication and security issues -- both of which are critical for end users who desire increased mobility."

David M. Lynch, vice president of worldwide marketing at Rainbow Technologies, said, "We welcome the Intel-VeriSign as it complements the Microsoft Palladium initiative and underlines the emerging need for hardware-based security. But this particular type of hardware authentication doesn't provide the portability today's mobile workforce needs. As a complement to this Verisign-Intel solution, users also need a portable, hardware security device, \[such as\] a USB key, that authenticates users and not just hardware. Because user credentials, (digital certificates and digital signatures) are stored on the key and not on the system's chip, the potential for an end-user's credentials to be hijacked by a hacker \[is\] significantly decreased."

Intel's Banias chips are currently in development and likely will begin shipping in the first quarter of 2003. Intel said the chips will offer high performance and low-power usage. The chips will also include built-in wireless LAN connectivity technology that supports both the 802.11a and 802.11b specifications.

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