The Trusted Computing Platform Alliance, which is backed by major companies such as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Compaq, has released a security standard based on the use of a 256-bit IBM encryption chip.
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Security consultants agree that a standard that builds security defences into hardware as well as into software makes information systems harder to hack.
However, Neil Barrett, technical director of the Information Risk Management, has warned that no system can offer total immunity against security breaches, and users of the standard risk passing on viruses or compromised data in a trusted, encrypted format.
"Implementing encryption at chip level could make things worse - not technically - but in terms of the business and legal procedures that surround the transaction," he said.
The TCPA standard covers a range of issues including single sign-on, digital signatures, public key infrastructure and protected storage. The IBM chip resides on the user's motherboard to protect private key information.