Analysts not so sure about Intel's security plan

When Chipzilla bought insecurity outfit McAfee many of us wondered why, and this week Intel released the fruits of its collaboration.

Dubbed Deepsafe, Intel has created a security system which it claims will work outside the OS at the chip level, watching the hardware for signs of malware doing its business.

It is supposed to be jolly good at dealing with rootkit attacks, which also execute outside the operating system. McAfee’s own threat report says that the number of rootkit infections discovered in the first half of 2011 was up 32 percent year-on-year.

However, according to Information Age, insecurity analysts are not sure that Intel’s new idea will make much difference.

Wendy Nather, a security analyst from the 451 Group and former IT security director at UBS, said that Intel has had the security modules that Deepsafe is based on in their chipset for a long time.

The problem is that venders could not be bothered to use them because that requires development where they thought there was little market interest.

Deepsafe updates would be much more disruptive than today’s security software patches. It would be like changing the foundations of a building from underneath it.

The first McAfee product that is based on Deepsafe is Deep Defender, and it will be in the shops in the first quarter of next year.

Nather said that Intel is just doing the things that McAfee does today and moving them into the chipset, and it doesn’t sound that exciting.

The real area where chip-level security is interesting is in embedded systems. These are being used everywhere from smart meters to mobile phones, and there is a lot of money being invested in trying to secure them.

In fact it is looking like the technology is not being targeted at PCs at all, but is all about Intel’s move into the mobile market.