December 10, 2016

Intel Developing New Hardware to Stop Zero-day Attacks

Intel have dropped a few hints about what it calls game changing ideas about defending PCs, smartphones and tablets against malware. Talking to Computerworld Justin Rattner, Intel’s chief technology officer, says that the new, radically different, technology will be hardware based (with a possible software component) and won’t use signatures.

“I think we have some real breakthrough ideas about changing the game in terms of malware,” Rattner said. “We’re going to see a quantum jump in the ability of future devices, be them PCs or phones or tablets or smart TVs, to defend themselves against attacks.”

Traditional anti-malware depends on signatures and if a particular attack hasn’t been previously seen and studied, the anti-malware software is blind to it. But Rattner says that Intel has found a new approach that will even stop zero-day exploits (meaning vulnerabilities that are unknown with the ‘zero’ referring to the number of days that the software or OS developers have known about the problem).

Clearly if Intel’s new ideas are effective against malware and zero-day exploits than this will be a great leap forward in security and will give Intel a good competitive edge over AMD and ARM. If you have to choose between a Windows PC that has hardware protection against malware and one that doesn’t, I guess consumers will go for the Intel chip. The distinction might not be so clear cut for smartphones or tablets due to the relatively small amount of malware which targets those platforms.

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