Intel says security software gaining adoption: 32-bit version led first wave of strong usage

A number of the world's largest Linux vendors have decided to adopt Intel's Common Data Security Architecture (CDSA) software infrastructure for security services, according to the chip giant.

Asian, European and US Linux players said they plan to use the security software - which should be available in a 64-bit version for the upcoming Itanium processor family in October - in their operating systems.

Intel developed the CDSA specification to give e-business applications the use of security services such as encryption, biometrics, digital certificate management, and authorisation credentials. CDSA has an API (application programming interface) which can help security services work with applications running on the operating system and includes a layer of software able to manage the various services being used by applications.

The 32-bit version emerged on schedule in August of this year and led the first wave of strong usage. Now CDSA seems in full swing with Caldera Systems, SuSE Linux, TurboLinux, Red Flag Software and others agreeing to use CDSA in the vendors' upcoming fourth-quarter 2000 and first-quarter 2001 versions of their operating systems. Additionally, Apple Computer said it will use Intel's product on its upcoming Mac OS X, along with Compaq pledging integration on its Tru64 Unix OS, and Hewlett-Packard also agreeing to take on the software for its HP-UX.

Terry Smith, Intel's CDSA marketing manager, said the US government loosened some of the laws surrounding the distribution of open-sourced security code, which made it possible to entice Asian and European vendors with the product. He said Intel looks for a community to build around CDSA, which can help mature the software. As more countries and more vendors adopt CDSA, open-source advocates claim increased security will follow. "We believe in the many eyes theory," Smith said. "Everybody and their brother can look at the code and see what is happening."

Martin Reynolds, vice president at Dataquest, said the solid acceptance of the CDSA software marks a positive step for the increase of Linux in the enterprise. While some argue that using open-source code for security software causes more harm than good, Reynolds thinks the collaborative approach leads to rapid and reliable bug fixes. "I am of the camp that believes open source is ultimately going to be more secure," Reynolds said.

Additionally, he said this could help drive the investment and awareness necessary to make Linux a major presence in the enterprise. While it may not have a huge impact now, Reynolds claimed that the availability of CDSA should help developers in the future. With Linux continuing to build momentum, he said CDSA's current development should ensure that decent security software exists when widespread demand for Linux use arrives.

"What this is doing is making sure we don't get a roadblock later," he said.

Patrik Flierl, strategic alliances manager at SuSE, voiced his company's support for Intel's product. "SuSE welcomes Intel's initiative towards optimum operating system security," he said. "The two most important aspects of a security system are its general architecture and its integration into the overlaying operating system. SuSE tested the Intel architecture and concluded that it looks very promising."

SuSE plans to include CDSA on its upcoming Linux 7.1 OS, scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2001.

A number of biometric companies have also said they will use CDSA to aid with biometric-enhanced authentication devices, such as fingerprint readers and iris scanners. Additionally, the Trusted European Security Infrastructure Initiative (TESI) announced plans to make CDSA-based interoperable software to encourage European adoption of the technology.

The current 32-bit and late October release of the 64-bit code can be downloaded at

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