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February 25, 1999

PHOENIX EXTENDS PC SECURITY TO PRE-BOOT PERIOD

By CBR Staff Writer

Phoenix Technologies Ltd says that today’s operating system level security for PCs is not enough, and is introducing new pre-boot or OS absent security in the form of SecureAgent. Typing in a password once the operating system has booted up effectively protects only the hard disk, and the security system can be bypassed easily by booting the system from a network or floppy disk. Hard disks can also be removed and successfully run from another system. SecureAgent, a firmware component which Phoenix is offering to OEMs of next-generation notebook, desktop, server and industrial computers, offers two-level security functionality at the T-Zero time – between switching the power on and the initiation of the operating system. It combines password access with verification by cryptogaphic hardware token, such as SmartCard or fingerprint recognition biometric devices. Phoenix says it worked with Hewlett-Packard Co on elements of the technology, which is likely to find one of its more important applications in mobile devices, where the physical machine can be easily stolen. The technology is OS independent, portable to non- Phoenix BIOS, and chip independent. It is available to OEMs from this quarter as a kit. The company says it is looking closely at the T-Zero time, and has other, non-security products under development.

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