We live at a time when the tendency has emerged in recent years to restrict freedom in favor of security, which remains an imperative means of controlling life. A trend that is also continuing in the world of personal computers with the creation of fenced gardens.
What is TPM on a PC?
To understand what Pluto is, we first need to understand what TPM or Trust Processor Module is, a name that translates to Trust Processor Module. But what do we mean by trust from an IT point of view? In a personal relationship, trust refers to the level of security that two people have with each other in their relationships, for there to be trust there has to be a consensus that a person does trust in the other, hence the word trust.
But a computer is not a person, so trust in this case is based on giving the software a trust label and fitting the hardware with a mechanism that allows you to run only what the software is called “signed” or trusted. . That is, the software that the manufacturer of the same or the owner of the operating system with it can allow to run only the software with the trusted signature.
On PC, the RPM is not in the CPU, but in the same chipset of the motherboard and therefore it is an element external to the CPU itself, so an informed user can take a logic analyzer next to a computer for less than 50 dollars and thus modify the communication between the CPU and the TPM.
To date, no program on the PC is blocked in its execution by the TPM, but it acts when it is started, so when we turn on the PC the only programs that are executed are those that have the trust of the TPM, a process that occurs until the operating system is loaded. This prevents a program from performing a PC reset without turning off the hardware which leads to the execution of malware.
What is Pluto and what are HSPs?
Pluto is what we call an HSP, where these acronyms stand for High Security Processor or High Security Processor, it is defined by Microsoft as a security processor that resides in another larger chip, which means it will be built into the main processor, regardless of the type. Being inside where the processor is located, it is no longer possible to place a data analyzer to manipulate the operation of the TPM. In other words, an HSP can be defined as a highly integrated TPM.
Pluto is a design created by Microsoft where for the moment it is on a single platform close to Microsoft, but at the same time foreign to the PC. It is on the Xbox Series X and the Xbox Series S that the HSP Pluto has the ability to decide whether a program can be run on one of the two consoles or not. It therefore only allows the execution of programs signed by Microsoft itself for the console.
So with the HSP Pluto we are faced with a scenario where we can only run software signed by Microsoft itself in our system. Which makes sense on a video game console because it’s a closed ecosystem, but in principle on PC it shouldn’t make sense at all due to the open nature of the platform.
Microsoft wants to change its business model
Every new PC we buy usually comes with a standard operating system, 90% of the time it is with Windows and Microsoft takes a good chunk of it. On the other hand, thanks to the appearance of PostPC devices, a new business model has been created which consists of the following:
- The operating system is given away, so it ceases to be a product in itself because it is integrated into the system and its functionality is sold as part of the integrated product.
- In order to capitalize on the creator of the operating system, it launches an integrated application store, said application store has the monopoly on the distribution of software for said operating system.
- Any product purchased through the app store incurs a royalty for the platform owner.
Microsoft has tried in recent years to switch to the second business model with disastrous results for them, so the development of the HSP Pluto is the key to changing Microsoft’s business model for the future. In the same way that Pluto powers you on Xbox so that you can only run signed software, the goal on PC is the same.
Are we really going to see the HSP Pluto on PC?
Well, oddly enough, Microsoft has already confirmed that future APUs and CPUs from AMD and Intel will carry the HSP Pluto inside, so we are faced with a part that will be built into all PCs and will change completely. the rules of the PC. , especially all those solutions that have to do with booting it, which will completely affect future BIOS / UEFI options.
This will reach the point where we will not be able to install the new version of Windows if we do not have a processor that has the HSP Pluto inside, as a future version of Windows as an operating system will require it to be able to run without problem.