Along with thwarting malware, the Pluton chip handles BitLocker, Windows Hello, and System Guard and might help prevent physical insider attacks. The technology is also being used in Azure Sphere in the cloud.
As organizations continue to wrestle with how to manage a hybrid workforce, security outside the corporate firewall continues to play a huge role in day-to-day IT operations.
Following the October release of Windows 11, which boasted features aimed at enabling hybrid work, Microsoft last week announced the first PCs with its Pluton chip-to-cloud security technology. The technology is aimed at securing the computers of remote workers and others.
At CES, Microsoft announced that Lenovo and chipmaker AMD have launched the first laptops — the ThinkPad Z13 and ThankPad Z16 — that come natively with the Pluton security chips. Pricing for the ThinkPad Z13 starts at $1,549, pricing for the ThinkPad Z16 starts at $2,099. Both laptops will be available in May and Lenovo said there is no additional cost associated with the Pluton chip inside.
Pluton will be disabled by default on 2022 Lenovo ThinkPad platforms (specifically, the Z13, Z16, T14, T16, T14s, P16s, and X13 using AMD 6000-series processors). Customers will have the ability to enable Pluton themselves, a Lenovo spokesperson said.
Asked why the chip is initially disabled, the spokesperson said enterprise customers “have told us they extensively test and evaluate any new security-related software or feature that will be introduced into their network and can choose to enable Pluton on their devices as they see fit. As Pluton rolls out into market and we have time to assess the customer demand for factory enablement, we will review enabling [it].”
The Pluton processor is aimed at delivering greater protection than the existing Trusted Platform Module (TPM) as it’s a dedicated security chip that handles security features such as BitLocker, Windows Hello, and System Guard.
Windows 11 came with a plethora of security updates, not the least of which was the inability to disable existing features such as UEFI, Secure book, and the cryptographic TPM. Windows 11 is a Zero Trust-ready operating system designed to be secure from the chip to the cloud, with verifiable security verifications built in and turned on by default.
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