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Troublesome Privacy Measures: using TPMs to protect users

Trusted Platform Modules (or TPMs) are small cryptographic chips frequently found integrated in mobile devices. When they first appeared in the early 2000s we were worried that they'd be used to restrict what users could do with their computers. For a variety of reasons, that didn't happen, and since then TPMs have mostly sat unused.

But now we face a new era, one where threats to user freedom are of a more chilling nature. Modern malware is capable of attacking lower levels of a system, making it difficult for a user to determine whether their computer can be trusted to behave in their best interests. New threats require new countermeasures, and TPMs may be part of the solution.

This presentation will cover the use of TPMs as part of a boot security process that makes it easier for users to verify that their system hasn't been compromised. It will explain what TPMs actually are, what they can be realistically used for and how the devices that we once feared for their impact on user freedom may be one of the best ways we currently have to defend it.

Matthew Garrett

Matthew Garrett is a security and kernel developer at CoreOS, helping build a secure container runtime environment. He has an extensive background in low-level security features, including UEFI Secure Boot, and has reverse engineered devices ranging from laptops to fruitflies.

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