The Trusted Computing Group (TCG) is to release its software infrastructure specifications next week. The specs will help technology such as NAC (network access control) determine if a device should be allowed network access or not.
They will lay out how applications can use a TPM, or Trusted Platform Module - a secure chip that stores authentication and encryption keys and other system data - to help them measure the 'health' of a device, said TCG chairman Brian Berger.
As well as verifying a PC's identity and integrity, security software can use the TPM to check whether the system has changed - perhaps because it has been infected by malware - since it last came onto the network. It will help too with the process of remediation - getting the system cleaned up again.
In particular, the specs include a feature called Platform Trust Services which the TCG claims will allow them to detect rootkits. "Rootkits are probably the most malicious activities going on today," Berger said.
If the software specs boost the 'good' uses of TPM, such as fighting malware, that could help divert attention away from its relevance to less popular technology such as digital rights management (DRM).
And there's less and less chance of escaping TPM, according to Berger.
"Virtually all enterprise PCs now have a TPM, servers with TPM are shipping now and we're seeing more TPM chip manufacturers coming to market," he said.
He noted though that while Microsoft Vista nominally supports TPM version 1.2, it only uses it within a single Vista component - namely the BitLocker drive encryption tool. ®