Intel Develops Hardware-Based Antivirus - Company

Intel's Hardware Security Method to Stop Even Unknown Malware

by Anton Shilov
01/26/2011 | 08:22 PM

While antivirus software gets updated fairly quickly to oppose even the newest malware, sometimes viruses manage to infect a large amount of computers in just a few hours while the cure is in development process. Intel Corp. said in an interview that it was developing a special purely hardware mechanism that will withstand even unknown malware.


"I think we have some real breakthrough ideas about changing the game in terms of malware. We are 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," said Justin Rattner, chief technology officer of Intel, in an interview with Computerworld web-site.

Contemporary antiviral software is based on the so-called signatures, pieces of code or algorithms or other known things that can identify a malicious program. But while antivirus software can be updated quickly and is very flexible in many terms, so-called zero-day attacks occur from time to time. According to Intel, its method is not signature-based and utilizes different ways to detect malware.

"Right now, anti-malware depends on signatures, so if you haven't seen the attack before, it goes right past you unnoticed. We have found a new approach that stops the most virulent attacks. It will stop zero-day scenarios. Even if we have never seen it, we can stop it dead in its tracks," said Mr. Rattner, who called the technology "radically different".

In mid-2010 the world's largest maker of chips acquired McAfee designer of antivirus software. with the announcement of the new technology, it is highly likely that eventually Intel plans to offer a proprietary hardware-software security solution, something that will give it an advantage over chips by Advanced Micro Devices or products featuring ARM architecture. Of course, certain pieces of technology can be used by both Intel and AMD, just like the NX-bit is used by chips from both companies.

The security solution by Intel may not be a luxury for owners of Intel-based devices, but a crucial necessity for today's world. Microprocessors are now inside many devices and the share of CPU-based products will only grow; so will their vulnerability to viruses. As a result, hardware-based protection methods may become compulsory.

The new technology from Intel will naturally be able to protect all the personal computers that utilize appropriate set of chips. However, in the age of the Internet viruses become not only creations of cyber terrorists, but also cyber weapon developed by governments. As a result, the new technology will either make cyber weapon useless or will give Intel (or a government) a key to all computers in the world.