Intel/McAfee acquisition: security friend or foe?

European competition regulators have given Intel’s $7.7bn acquisition of McAfee conditional approval.

This deal certainly ruffled a few feathers when it was being passed through. Intel’s pledge to the EU Competition Commissioner that it will provide rival security firms with access to the necessary information to allow their products to use Intel’s chips is reflective of one market reservation over this acquisition.

Another and probably more pressing concern is whether it is socially acceptable for Intel to impose security on the device. Whilst it might make sense in the consumer mobility space, governments and enterprises will surely want to make their own security decisions, not have it forced on them at the chip level.

To date, Intel’s intent and vision behind the deal has been muddy at best. Justin Rattner’s indication that Intel is developing functionality that will prevent zero-day threats on the device is interesting. But, the feasibility needs to be explored.

The lack of an official announcement on its intention has left the market pondering what exactly it will do next. That said – it makes sense for its focus to be on the consumer market, which represents a significant portion of both Intel and McAfee’s revenues.

Security innovation on the mobile device would certainly be an interesting and most likely welcome addition to the consumer handset market. With current security models proving ineffective, new levels of intelligence and a change in mindset are needed to protect today’s IT environment.

Pat Clawson is Chairman & CEO, Lumension. Pat is responsible for leading Lumension's overall strategic direction. With more than 20 years of software industry experience, Pat has a proven track record of running high tech companies.