Intel Sets Hacker Trap

Intel wants to lay a virtual trap for hackers.

The chip maker, which launched its vPro brand for business desktops April 24, aims to increase PC security by stepping up the vPro machines’ abilities to proactively guard against malware.

The company will employ virtualization technology—which can partition a PC to run different types of software simultaneously—to set up a new type of security checkpoint inside each machine.

That checkpoint, which is expected to be the first of its kind for client PCs when it arrives in vPro Professional PCs in the third quarter, can guard a machine by monitoring network traffic into it and intervening if it exhibits behavior patterns consistent with an infection.

“We had to come up with some better, more proactive, more intelligent [and] more automated ways to defend our systems,” said Gregory Bryant, general manager for the Digital Office Platforms Group at Intel, in Santa Clara, Calif.

Setting up the security checkpoint involves using an Intel-written virtualization program to create a separate security partition that stands between the network and the PC’s OS, applications and data to stop malware before it reaches the more sensitive areas, Bryant said.

To read more about Intel’s business desktops, click here.

The action, he said, can augment traditional anti-malware software by acting automatically if it detects an attack—it can shut off the PC’s network access, for example—whereas updating anti-virus signatures is a reactive response to a threat.

The partition approach would help speed anti-malware signature distribution to PCs as well, given that anti-malware signatures would only have to be made compatible with the security agent itself, not other types of software.

Symantec, Intel’s first vPro security partner, will offer a security agent that will reside in the partition, which it says is both more proactive—it will include behavior analysis designed to root out zero-day attacks—and quicker to deploy signatures, said Enrique Salem, senior vice president for consumer products and solutions at Symantec, in Cupertino, Calif.

vPro Professional machines will also come with TPM (Trusted Platform Module) 1.2 chips, which help in such tasks as securing passwords and data.

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