Microsoft has unveiled a new security chip called Pluton that has been designed to protect the future Windows PCs. The Pluton security processor will provide next-generation hardware security protection to Windows PCs through future chips from AMD, Intel and Qualcomm, the tech giant said in a statement late on Tuesday.
"In collaboration with leading silicon partners AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm Technologies, we are announcing the Microsoft Pluton security processor," said David Weston, Director of Enterprise and OS Security.
"This chip-to-cloud security technology, pioneered in Xbox and Azure Sphere, will bring even more security advancements to future Windows PCs and signals the beginning of a journey with ecosystem and OEM partners," he added.
Microsoft Pluton is built directly into future CPUs and will replace the existing Trusted Platform Module (TPM), a chip used to secure hardware and cryptographic keys.
"This revolutionary security processor design will make it significantly more difficult for attackers to hide beneath the operating system, and improve our ability to guard against physical attacks, prevent the theft of credential and encryption keys, and provide the ability to recover from software bugs," Weston elaborated.
The TPM is a hardware component which is used to help securely store keys and measurements that verify the integrity of the system. TPMs have been supported in Windows for more than 10 years and power many critical technologies such as Windows Hello and BitLocker.
The Pluton design removes the potential for that communication channel to be attacked by building security directly into the CPU.
"Windows PCs using the Pluton architecture will first emulate a TPM that works with the existing TPM specifications and APIs, which will allow customers to immediately benefit from enhanced security for Windows features that rely on TPMs like BitLocker and System Guard," Microsoft explained.
Windows devices with Pluton will use the Pluton security processor to protect credentials, user identities, encryption keys, and personal data. None of this information can be removed from Pluton even if an attacker has installed malware or has complete physical possession of the PC.
Mike Nordquist, Senior Director, Commercial Client Security, Intel, said: "The introduction of Microsoft Pluton into future Intel CPUs will further enable integration between Intel hardware and the Windows operating system".
The Pluton design was introduced as part of the integrated hardware and OS security capabilities in the Xbox One console released in 2013 by Microsoft in partnership with AMD and also within Azure Sphere.
"AMD and Microsoft have been closely partnering to develop and continuously improve processor-based security solutions, beginning with the Xbox One console and now in the PC," said Jason Thomas, head of product security, AMD.