EOF - Give TCPA an Owner Override

Don't accept “trusted computing” unless it's under the control of the user. One new feature can eliminate TCPA's most serious privacy concern and give it a chance to be really trustworthy.


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Too much control

Jenny's picture

The technology is not the problem. As always it's men who want to abuse the technology.


baidu's picture

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Anonymous's picture

ubuntu forever

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Dong Jian Nong's picture

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The fundamental issue is

Wong Seoul's picture

The fundamental issue is that whoever controls the TC infrastructure will acquire a huge amount of power. Having this single point of control is like making everyone use the same bank, or the same accountant, or the same lawyer. There are many ways in which this power could be abused.


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A timeline-based iterative approach

software engineering's picture

A timeline-based iterative approach identifies the schedule of
deadlines and well-charted out action-plans provide clarity on
how to go about achieving the targets. Management of work flow
is based on a systematic process to provide better predictability.

TCPA does not do local attestation

Zygo Blaxell's picture

Ummm...One thing TCPA does not do is local attestation. TCPA can prove to any computer on the Internet that the software on some computer has not been tampered with, except one: the computer on which it is running. The owner of the PC still has no idea what software is actually running on the machine, even if remote attestation is working according to TCPA spec.

Think about it...to verify PCR values, you have to query the local TPM chip using a trusted computer, and check the certificate against a CA that you trust; however, since we're trying to verify your own computer, you can't actually trust the result of this certificate check: your computer might be running a trojan that only pretends to do the attestation protocol with the TPM, but in reality wants to send your boot password to anyone within range of the integrated wireless LAN. You'd need to use another, secure computer, to verify that your secure computer is secure (maybe your PDA or cell phone? But how do you know those are secure?). Eventually, you have to just hold your breath and trust some machine, somewhere, and we're right back to where we started before we spent all this time and energy on TCPA.

The best approximation of a solution to this would be an embedded LCD panel somewhere in the machine which displayed PCR registers or SHA1 signatures, fed directly from the TPM without control by the host CPU. Alternatively, TPM systems should come with a SecurID-type external card which displays a number that changes over time, which can be verified by comparing the number on the card with a number that comes from the TPM only after the TPM attestation certificates are validated. That way you, the user, would have some way to know whether the OS you booted is lying about the TPM's attestation results.

Re: Give TCPA an Owner Override

gbullough's picture

Seth's article is one of the sillier things I've read in the whole of my 15 years of experience in trusted computing.
The very notion of an 'owner override' (read: the ability to lie to another TCPA entity while still retaining TCPA
certification) is absurd.
To use Seth's example, if my bank says to me: 'You
must use TCPA, and under TCPA you must certify that
you are using Browser X in order to use our online banking
system' then I'm free to take issue with their decision. What
I am NOT free to do is to certify falsely that I'm using Browser
X, when I'm really using Browser Y.
If you want to reserve the right to deceive, then don't
expect to be trusted.
Yes there are civil liberties, restaint of trade, and all
sorts of other issues raised by the TCPA standard. However
the way to confront these issues is head-on, and forthrightly,
not by taking the 'trust' out of 'trusted' by empowering
anybody...even the platform owner...to deceive other
entities under the guise of 'Trust.'
The TCPA committee is right to reject Seth's and the EFF's
petition for platform owner override. Two wrongs, in this case
would not make a right.

Re: Give TCPA an Owner Override

Anonymous's picture

I believe that an owner override is a very valuable addition. It allows reliable interoperation of different programs, as well as giving the user the ability to detect unauthorised changes.

In the case that you propose, the person logging onto the bank website has the choice of using the 'appropriate' software, or software of their choice. Since it is the user that stands to lose from any loss of security in the transaction with the bank, it is the user who should make the choice. The user can be sure that the software that they are using has not been changed without their consent, and the much more important goal of software interoperability remains.

Remember, there is nothing that says that buisnesses should do buisness on the internet. If someone wants security, then they can always walk to the physical bank.

I think that a quote from Benjamin Franklin is appropriate at this point:

They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security

Re: Give TCPA an Owner Override

Anonymous's picture

That's a bunch of nosie and you know it. If they try and lock it out, crackers will simply find a way to make it do what they want it to do, which will take what? A day and a half tops? So you idley trust anything that represents itself as X, and you end up with annother patented M$ security hole that is illegal to fix or tamper with in any way. If the option to override is there, then at the very least everyone will know about it.