Intel: Thoughtful security is essential for innovation

Intel execs stressed the importance of secure technologies and solid collaborations to improve product resilience and fuel innovation.

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Computing and communications technologies are woven into the fabric of our daily lives, fueling us to move more quickly into the future, as we adopt and apply the quickly ever-evolving tech. At a press conference on Thursday, May 13, dubbed a "fireside chat," Intel executives discussed the imminent future and the worldwide key roles of the tech that are rapidly reshaping the way we conduct business and live our lives: the cloud, connectivity, artificial intelligence and the intelligent edge. 

The "chat" was moderated by Suzy Greenberg, vice president of Intel product assurance and security, and the Intel executive panel were Amy Santoni, principal engineer, security architecture and engineering group; Ron Perez, fellow, security architecture, data platform group; Tom Garrison, vice president and general manager of client security strategy and initiatives; and Michael Nordquist, senior director of strategic planning and architecture, client computing group.

Technology made the rapid transition from on-premise to working from home possible, but the distributed workforce necessitated massive amounts of data to be shared. 

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Greenberg warned that "the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center reports receiving 3,000 to 4,000 cybersecurity complaints each day, a 300% jump since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The last year and a half has shown us all that it's more important than ever to stay focused on security."

She cited a recent Ponemon Institute study that determined 66% of IT decision-makers find it very important for their technology provider to have the capability to adapt to the changing threat landscape, yet, 54% of respondents say their technology providers don't offer this capability.

"As the landscape continues to evolve, it's important to highlight those areas where a renewed focus on security is critical," Greenberg said.

It may seem like everyone is using Mac products, but the execs said that the pandemic taught tech leaders that PCs remain essential in this remote world. It's about the "intelligent edge," and "Unfortunately, these endpoint systems are often the way bad actors access your critical data or embed malware in systems," Greenberg said. The panel was in agreement that tech pros "continue to find new ways to solve common security challenges."

They discussed Intel software that they said accelerated "the adoption of confidential computing." They revealed that customers such as  Leidos, IntellectEU, Demetics, Consilient and University of California San Francisco use Intel SGX.

Intel recently announced a partnership with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop a homomorphic encryption accelerator for data protection in virtual environments and cited Nasdaq as an early adopter of HE use cases.

Remote workers are wholly reliant on a well-functioning Wi-Fi system, and Greenberg said that security is a key consideration particularly for wireless core, wireless access, network edge workloads and security appliances. "Security in 5G/6G networks is a key innovation focus within Intel Labs, and we are partnering with the National Science Foundation to accelerate research in more secure next-generation wireless systems."

In the area of artificial intelligence, Intel works with the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the collaboration fuels some high tech as it powers a model for federated learning of international healthcare and research institutions. For example, they worked together to improve identification of brain tumors without sharing data. "Building an accurate algorithm to assist physicians in detecting tumors requires training against a large sample of scans, which should be protected for patient confidentiality" Greenberg said.

The "fireside chat" concluded with a lively discussion on how security is a system-level property, and every component in the system,  from software to silicon, must play its part to help secure data. "We have an opportunity to bring innovative, world-changing technologies to life that are developed with security in mind," Greenberg said. "The trust we build based on this investment can provide customers the flexibility and assurance they need to lead with purpose."

Additionally, Intel announced Monday and shared an IOActive report that compared the 11th Gen Intel Core vPro mobile processors with AMD Ryzen 4000-series Pro mobile processors and said the Intel processor was the more comprehensive hardware-based security for business. Research found Intel offers features in these categories below the OS, platform update, advanced threat protection or crypto extension, but AMD has no corresponding tech in any of the categories. Intel and AMD, said the IOActive report, have equivalent capabilities in the trusted execution category. Initial tests were conducted before the Ryzen 5000 series Pro was released.

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