The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea

Friday, 19 July 2002, 3:09 AM EST

While open-source software's reputation for security has taken a hit lately, Microsoft's Palladium presents itself as an opportunity to improve security by eliminating entire classes of potential exploits. However, Palladium cannot protect us from most security threats - and its aim may be to eliminate open source software on commodity hardware.

Nobody disputes that buffer overflows and similar attacks have been one of the most persistent sources of serious security problems in recent years.

Palladium might provide substantial security against these attacks, because it will require that all code be digitally signed before it can run. This will be enforced at the hardware level, to reduce the likelihood of serious implementation bugs. This model could plausibly eliminate attacks whereby low-level code might be erroneously executed by a privileged application.

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