Intel Launches New Generation of Secure Processors

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Software alone isn't enough to secure the enterprise against modern threats. That's the view of chip giant Intel, which is embedding securing technology into its new third-generation Intel Core vPro platform.

Announced this week, the new Intel vPro chips boast tighter integration with Intel's McAfee security technologies and include security enhancements to help businesses protect against risks such as identity theft. The new processors are designed to strengthen security in the areas of threat management, identity and access control, data and asset protection, and monitoring and remediation.

At an Intel press event, Intel Architecture Group VP and Business Client Platform Division GM Rick Echevarria discussed new features such as protected transaction display -- a defensive measure against keyloggers and screen scrapers that confirms user presence, verifies transactions, and creates secure PIN input prior to the release of credentials.

"The protected transaction display addresses the issue of testing for user presense in front of the system," Echevarria said. "Through the combination of our CPU and graphics we're able to identify that there is a user in front of the system and we can do that without any of the keys or PIN numbers being exposed to the operating system."

Intel's third generation vPro also integrates with Intel OS Guard to help prevent malware from executing on a system. Another new feature is embedded PKI, which Echevarria said is important to organizations because it is more scalable than a one-time password.

"That's where the integration with VPNs comes into play," Echevarria said. "We're using standard APIs into the system and working with a number of the most common VPN solutions to ensure we can use multi-factor capabilities included embedded PKI to authenticate users."

Overall, Echevarria stressed the importance of security for Intel -- a fact underscored by Intel's acquisition of McAfee for $7.7 billion in 2010. Leveraging the security technologies from that acquisition, Intel is continuing to bake security policy integration deeper into its technologies. For example, Intel is now integrating with McAfee's ePolicy Orchestrator (EPO) as a management platform for security.

"We've now taken ePO and integrated it with the hardware," Echevarria said. "That enables a much more hardened version of ePO that can be delivered to customers."

So now when an enterprise is defining their policies around remote wake and patch for example, it's a capability that is integrated at the hardware level. This hardware integration brings a greater level of control and efficiency by enabling organizations to push out security patches even to machines that are powered off, Echevarria said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eSecurity Planet and InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network. Follow him on Twitter: @TechJournalist.