Essays Tagged "ZDNet News"

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Intel's Processor ID

  • Bruce Schneier
  • ZDNet News
  • January 26, 1999

Last month Intel Corp. announced that its new processor chips would come equipped with ID numbers, a unique serial number burned into the chip during manufacture. Intel said that this ID number will help facilitate e-commerce, prevent fraud and promote digital content protection.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t do any of these things.

To see the problem, consider this analogy: Imagine that every person was issued a unique identification number on a national ID card. A person would have to show this card in order to engage in commerce, get medical care, whatever. Such a system works, provided that the merchant, doctor, or whoever can examine the card and verify that it hasn’t been forged. Now imagine that the merchants were not allowed to examine the card. They had to ask the person for his ID number, and then accept whatever number the person responded with. This system is only secure if you trust what the person says…

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.