CybersecurityIntel unveils new security-on-a-chip system

Published 22 January 2016

Intel on Tuesday unveiled a new password security-on-a-chip system called Intel Authenticate. The new security system aims to thwart hackers who use fake e-mails to trick employees into revealing sensitive information like user names and passwords. Intel said that putting the authentication process on a chip makes the PC itself part of the security system.

Intel on Tuesday unveiled a new password security-on-a-chip system called Intel Authenticate. The new security system aims to thwart hackers who use fake e-mails to trick employees into revealing sensitive information like user names and passwords.

Intel Authenticate may even make it possible for corporate IT managers to replace the long, and ever-changing, passwords with short PIN numbers, or with fingerprints and other identifiers.

Tom Garrison, an Intel vice president, said Intel Authenticate will be added to the company’s line of sixth-generation processors and tested by select businesses in the coming months.

Santa Cruz Sentinel reports that Intel will make it part of all the processors that it markets for enterprise PCs. Intel Authenticate uses hardware-based “multifactor authentication” — more than one method of identifying a user — to block hackers, even if they obtain a password.

Intel said in its announcement that putting the authentication process on a chip makes the PC itself part of the security system.

Garrison said that phishing is a rising problem. He said that an estimated 117,000 corporate cyberattacks involving phishing occur every day. He noted that the cost per successful attack averages $20 million, and roughly 750 million PCs are vulnerable.

Intel Authenticate will verify an employee’s identity with a personal identification number, proximity of the employee’s mobile phone or badge, biometrics like a fingerprint, and location of the building the employee is in.

Garrison said that IT managers can decide which factors to embed in the chip. “IT has full control.”

“One of the biggest keys to this is there is a secure element inside the Intel processor that manages all of this,” industry analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy told Sentinel. “That wasn’t available before. A lot of different pieces had to come together.”

“Hardware is a lot harder to get into,” he said. Someone armed with a password would be blocked by additional layers of security tucked away in the computer’s processor, he added.

“lf you look at where attacks come, typically somebody gets you to give them your password with a fake email or text that says ‘hey, log in’ to a pirate website,” he said.

“Now, you wouldn’t have a single password. You would stick in your thumb, or look at the PC, have your phone near you, and be opening the PC where they know you work, and not somewhere in Lithuania,” Moorhead said.

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