Security Market Segment LS
Monday, 06 August 2012 11:35

Microsoft mum on reasons for secure boot

By

Microsoft is apparently unwilling to discuss the reasons behind its move to a so-called secure boot process for Windows 8, the next release of its operating system.

Windows 8 is scheduled to be released to the public on October 26. Last year, the company announced that it would be using a secure boot process, using cryptographic keys to recognise the authenticity of the system that attempts to start up.

This has caused some disquiet among users of other operating systems as it means that hardware certified for Windows 8 will not be able to boot such operating systems. Two GNU/Linux distributions, Red Hat and Ubuntu, have outlined ways in which they will get their distributions to boot on hardware that is certified for Windows 8.

However, given that it has been convicted of monopoly practices on the x86 platform in the past, Microsoft has said that there will be a way to turn secure boot off on this platform.

On the ARM platform, however, a device which is sold with Windows 8 will be able to run only that version of Windows.

But why secure boot and why now? Some weeks ago, security guru Paul Ducklin made some educated guesses about what might be the reasoning behind such thinking.

Going to the source is always the best way to understand things so I decided to ask. Microsoft's PR handlers in Australia agreed to send the following questions from me about secure boot to the company for answers:

  1. Is there some seminal event that led Microsoft to decide on secure boot? Like, say, an outbreak of infection by a major destructive boot virus or viruses?
  2. What in your opinion are the upsides of secure boot?
  3. And, conversely, the downsides, if any?
  4. Cynics may say that you are again trying to lock out other operating systems to maintain your market dominance in the PC arena. What would you say to that?
  5. Secure boot depends on keys. That keys are not sacrosanct has been shown by the recent episode of the Flame virus. So, with secure boot, are we looking at more of what security expert Bruce Schneier calls security theatre?

 A week later, I received a reply from the PR handler.

"Apologies for the delay in getting back to you," it read. "Unfortunately the only information I was able to source comes from the Building Windows 8 Blog where you can find information about Secure Boot and SmartScreen and Windows Defender enhancements."

Given that I had sent these questions to the company, I tried to clarify the source of these links. "Were these links given to you by someone at the company or did they ask you to look for something on your own to pass on to me?" was my next query.

Alas, I have yet to receive a reply after five days.

The two web pages mentioned in the reply were ones I had already read - last year. In them, Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live division, explains the process of secure boot in great detail with some nice colourful charts, and also gives an overview of the additional security that will be available in Windows 8 compared to earlier versions of Windows.

They tell one exactly nothing as to why secure boot was adopted.

It seems reasonable to assume, thus, that Microsoft wants no part of any reasoned discussion on the issue and does not feel accountable to the public about what it does.


Subscribe to ITWIRE UPDATE Newsletter here

GRAND OPENING OF THE ITWIRE SHOP

The much awaited iTWire Shop is now open to our readers.

Visit the iTWire Shop, a leading destination for stylish accessories, gear & gadgets, lifestyle products and everyday portable office essentials, drones, zoom lenses for smartphones, software and online training.

PLUS Big Brands include: Apple, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, Sennheiser and many more.

Products available for any country.

We hope you enjoy and find value in the much anticipated iTWire Shop.

ENTER THE SHOP NOW!

INTRODUCING ITWIRE TV

iTWire TV offers a unique value to the Tech Sector by providing a range of video interviews, news, views and reviews, and also provides the opportunity for vendors to promote your company and your marketing messages.

We work with you to develop the message and conduct the interview or product review in a safe and collaborative way. Unlike other Tech YouTube channels, we create a story around your message and post that on the homepage of ITWire, linking to your message.

In addition, your interview post message can be displayed in up to 7 different post displays on our the iTWire.com site to drive traffic and readers to your video content and downloads. This can be a significant Lead Generation opportunity for your business.

We also provide 3 videos in one recording/sitting if you require so that you have a series of videos to promote to your customers. Your sales team can add your emails to sales collateral and to the footer of their sales and marketing emails.

See the latest in Tech News, Views, Interviews, Reviews, Product Promos and Events. Plus funny videos from our readers and customers.

SEE WHAT'S ON ITWIRE TV NOW!

BACK TO HOME PAGE
Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

Share News tips for the iTWire Journalists? Your tip will be anonymous

WEBINARS ONLINE & ON-DEMAND

GUEST ARTICLES

VENDOR NEWS

Guest Opinion

Guest Reviews

Guest Research

Guest Research & Case Studies

Channel News

Comments