A German government technology agency has warned that new security technology in computers running Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system may actually make PCs more vulnerable to cyber threats, including sabotage.

Responsible for the vulnerability, according to a statement published on a website of Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), is a computer chip known as the Trusted Platform Module, or TPM 2.0.

The TPM 2.0, built into Windows 8 computers, was originally designed to do the exact opposite – to improve protection of PCs by interacting with a variety of security applications.

However, the BSI – Germany’s established advisor in matters of technology and security – said the joint implementation of Windows 8 and TPM 2.0 chips could lead to “a loss of control” over both, the operating system and hardware.

“As a result, new risks occur for users, especially for federal and critical infrastructure,” the statement said. “The new mechanisms in use can also be used for sabotage by third parties. These risks need to be addressed.”

Technical details behind the bug have not been specified.

The BSI further said it has been in touch with the TPM technology developer – the Trusted Computing Group – working to find a solution to fix the problem.

The Trusted Computing Group is a non-profit organization backed by technology firms including IBM, Intel, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft. The company’s spokeswoman refused to comment on the specific claims raised by the BSI, saying the group has provided PC makers and users with plenty of advice on best security practices to avoid any threats that they may face.

Microsoft provided a statement saying PC makers using Windows 8 have the option to turn off the TPM technology, disabling it for the customers.

Germany has been at the forefront of European opposition against the practices of US security agencies, revealed earlier this year, in which technology giants, like Microsoft, were said to play an important role.

Source: E&T Engineering & Technology Magazine


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