Talk of Intel developing IT security game-changer is premature

Reports of Intel developing an `IT security game-changer’ that will reportedly stop zero-day security attacks should be tempered with the reality that many company PCs in use today will still be in active use in five years’ time.

Whilst Intel has been something of a chip pioneer ever since the earliest days of PCs, the reality is that a new chipset – no matter what its features – will still have to replace the hundreds of millions of legacy computers in active use around the world.

Most companies work on a two or three-year cycle for their computers, so even if Intel unveiled a zero-day killer chip architecture this summer, it probably won’t reach PC store shelves until much later in the year.

That means you are probably looking at a 2014/2015 timeframe before most corporates upgrade their PCs to the new architecture, and around the latter part of the decade before most companies have moved on up.

Citing the example of quad-core processor-based PCs still very much in the minority, largely owing to the cost of deploying such machines in the corporate world, it could be even longer than this before a generation of Intel-based zero-day protected PCs begin to reach a majority in the workplace.

You only have to look at the success that the Dell Optiplex series has had in the workplace since their widespread introduction in the mid-2000. Many call centres still use these machines owing to their modularity and ease of deployment.

Intel’s AntiTheft (AT) technology is a classic case in point, as, although the chip technology has been discussed for some time, its implementation is still quite scarce in the computer world.

It is excellent to hear that Intel is developing next-generation chip architectures that support security features on an on-chip basis, but the reality is that there are many hundreds of millions of legacy PCs in day-to-day usage in companies around the world.

There will also be large numbers of PC sold this year with quite mundane non-AT specifications. Even with the most attractive security technology ever seen, companies are not going to flock to buy new computers – they’re going to amortise their existing systems.

And with an amortisation cycle for a typical company PC being measured in years, I think that any talk of Intel developing a game-changer in the computer security business is a little premature.

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As Chief Security Architect, Michael Hamelin identifies and champions the security standards and processes for Tufin Software Technologies. Bringing more than 15 years of security domain expertise to Tufin, Michael has deep hands-on technical knowledge in security architecture, penetration testing, intrusion detection, and anomalous detection of rouge traffic. He has authored numerous courses in information security and worked as a consultant, security analyst, forensics lead, and security practice manager. He is also a featured security speaker around the world widely regarded as a leading technical thinker in information security. Michael previously held technical leadership positions at VeriSign, Cox Communications, and Resilience. Prior to joining Tufin he was the Principal Network and Security Architect for ChoicePoint. Michael received Bachelor of Science degrees in Chemistry and Physics from Norwich University, and did his graduate work at Texas A&M University.