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Microsoft Unveils New Chip To Increase Security of future Windows PCs

Pluton will guard PCs against physical attacks


Microsoft has launched various initiatives in Windows to secure laptops running the OS. On the software level, the company has done an excellent job. Its latest OS, Windows 10, has a built-in antivirus, Microsoft Defender, which has become more robust.

Other solutions like Windows Hello biometric facial recognition, System Guard, BitLocker, and Application Control for Windows are also applauded.

But the main security challenge that has continued to affect Windows laptops lies in the hardware and the bridge between hardware and software.

Such flaws are hard to cover with software alone, and software breaches are hard to be monitored.

Microsoft is championing its new security chip, Pluton, as a solution to such problems.

“Windows devices with Pluton will use the Pluton security processor to protect credentials, user identities, encryption keys, and personal data,” Microsoft says.

The tech company is joining forces with industry-leading chipmakers AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., on this. Pluton secures the CPU acting as a guard against physical attacks if an attacker has access to a PC. It will also serve as a guard to low-level firmware often used to intrude Windows systems.

Microsoft says Pluton will make it hard for attackers to steal your credentials, personal data, and encryption keys. Besides, it will help your pc recover from software bugs.

Pluton will also harden the security of their Windows 10 security features like BitLocker and Security Guard that rely on Trusted Platform Module (TPM), which lies at the heart of Windows security features. TPM has been used on Windows for over ten years, mainly for secure storage of keys and measurements that verify the system’s integrity.

But TPM has failed to secure PCs as hackers devise new advanced methods of bypassing its security protocols by targeting the CPU and TPM channel. Pluton guards this channel and will also be used to store sensitive data like encryption keys.

Armed with robust encryption technology, none of this information can be removed from Pluton even if an attacker has installed malware or has complete physical possession of the PC, Microsoft says.

The security chip will also help streamline firmware updates to ensure your Windows machine is always up to date.

“Pluton provides a flexible, updateable platform for running firmware that implements end-to-end security functionality authored, maintained, and updated by Microsoft,” the company said.

“Pluton for Windows computers will be integrated with the Windows Update process in the same way that the Azure Sphere Security Service connects to IoT devices.”

Pluton is not really new as it has been used in the Xbox to prevent gamers from bypassing its security protocols or running pirated games. The company has also integrated Pluton in its cloud service, Azure Sphere, to strengthen the security of IoT devices.

Pluton’s direct competitor is Apple’s T2 security chip which is used by the company to secure its Macs, which by the way has recently been reported with an “unfixable flaw”.

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Alvin Wanjala

Alvin Wanjala has been writing about technology for over 2 years. He writes about different topics in the consumer tech space. He loves streaming music, programming, and gaming during downtimes.

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