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The Components of a Trusted Computing Platform

Architecturally, Trusted Computing Platforms are typically platforms modified by the addition of a small amount of extra hardware (roughly equivalent to a smart card chip), extra firmware and extra software, and an enhanced operating system. The fundamental functional alteration is the insertion of a root-of-trust into a platform. (A root-of-trust is a set of unconditionally trusted functions.) But a root-of-trust is not the whole story; commercial factors, political factors, and other requirements must all be addressed.

The Trusted Computing Platform Alliance's version of a Trusted Computing Platform uses the following (to first approximation):

  • Trusted functions that are typically implemented in a security chip

  • Symmetric encryption functions and support functions implemented in firmware and software

  • Modifications to the operating system

The remainder of this tutorial introduces the particular set of critical functions that are present in a TCPA-style Trusted Computing Platform.

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