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Chapter 2. Basic Security Concepts

This chapter provides an overview of security concepts and their application to the TPM. It is not important that you understand the underlying mathematics of those concepts, so they will not be described. Instead, the chapter discusses the behavior of the various cryptographic algorithms so you can understand how they are used in the TPM 2.0 specification.

Security experts can skip this chapter. If you have less or somewhat rusty knowledge, you are advised to skim it to refresh your memory or learn how basic cryptographic concepts are used in TPMs. If you have little or no TPM knowledge, this chapter is a must read.

All the cryptographic algorithms included in TPM 2.0 are based on public standards that have been extensively reviewed. Creating custom algorithms that are cryptographically strong has generally proven to be very difficult. Many years of cryptanalysis must be performed before an algorithm is considered strong by the community, and only algorithms that have met that criteria are approved for use in the TPM by the Trusted Computing Group (TCG). This chapter describes three types of these algorithms: hash algorithms used mostly for integrity, symmetric-encryption algorithms used mostly for confidentiality, and asymmetric-encryption algorithms used mostly for digital signatures and key management. Specifically, we explore secure hash algorithms the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES); and two asymmetric standards, RSA and elliptic curve cryptography (ECC). But before considering the actual algorithms, you need to know what they are used to defend against.

The chapter begins with a description of the two attack classes: brute force and cryptanalysis. It then defines some fundamental concepts: messages, secrecy, integrity, authentication, and authorization, along with two higher-layer concepts, anti-replay and nonrepudiation. It finishes with a listing of the cryptographic algorithm classes used in the TPM.

For the most part, these are general security principles. They are used throughout the TPM design, and a description of their specific application to TPM 2.0 will be given as they are used throughout the book. In the few cases where the TPM uses cryptography in a less common way, or where the specification introduces a new cryptographic term, we explain it here. (The extend operation is an example of both cases: it's a general security concept that has been applied in a new way in TPMs.)

Everything done in a TPM is related in some way to mitigating cryptographic attacks.

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