Doubts raised over Vista PC security tool

Questions have been raised about the viability of a new PC hardware component aimed at boosting the security of Windows Vista.

Questions have been raised about the viability of a new PC hardware component aimed at boosting the security of Windows Vista.

Bitlocker is a security element in Vista based on the Trusted Platform Module (TPM). Bitlocker encrypts data and the TPM is used to store the decryption key.

IT security experts have warned that if a hard disc using Bitlocker was compromised, the data could be accessed because it uses AES, a strong, but crackable, encryption system.

Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel demonstrated how to break AES last year.

Phil Cracknell, director of Cap­gemini’s security consulting practice, warned, “AES is a good method of security but it is crackable, given enough processing power.”

Cracknell also said that, to be deployed as secure hardware for government departments, PC makers would need to ensure machines using Bitlocker technology had government-approved CESG certification or equivalent.

Mike Nash, corporate vice-president for Microsoft’s security technology unit, said Bitlocker encrypted every byte of data on the hard disc to make it inaccessible. He would not be drawn on whether the AES encryption in Bitlocker would stand the test of time, as the levels of processing power needed to crack it became more widely available.

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