Phoenix Package Keeps Key Apps Secure

Core Managed Environment will keep vital applications in a safe area, independent of the operating system, reducing costs and boosting security.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

February 18, 2003

2 Min Read

With PC and server companies struggling for new ways to innovate on the x86 platform, Phoenix Technologies Ltd. is pointing to core software stored on system hard drives as a way to cut management costs and improve system security.

On Tuesday, Phoenix introduced its Core Managed Environment, a set of development tools, APIs, and basic input and output system technologies that will let companies keep critical apps in a secure area, independent of the main operating system.

The implications are far-reaching. Manufacturers can use these development aids to install operating systems, security apps, and Web browsers in tamper-resistant areas of their PCs and servers. In the event the operating system fails to load properly, the PC or server can communicate with a Web site and automatically download any apps needed to fix the problem.

While most people think of BIOS as just ASCII text that goes out of business once it calls the operating system, Phoenix wants them to use this protected area as a way to make devices more secure and reliable, says Roger Kay, IDC's director of client computing. Phoenix's development tools are an incremental, but still very important, development in the BIOS, he says. "Someday you might be able to use these tools to create something like LoJack for notebooks."

Phoenix's Core Managed Environment is one way IBM's original equipment manufacturers enable IBM Rapid Restore PC capabilities, says Phoenix Technologies VP Edward Hoo. IBM Rapid Restore PC, which is developed by Xpoint Technologies for IBM, lets users create a backup image of data, applications, and operating system and store it in a protected portion of the hard drive.

Phoenix has more than two decades of experience working at the hard-drive level. About 1.2 billion PCs, servers, and other devices use the company's various BIOS technologies to manage systems from the time the power is switched on until it hands things off to the operating system. In those precious few seconds, BIOS communicates with system hardware, checks to ensure that the proper drivers are installed, checks the accuracy of the system's date and time, and loads the operating system.

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