Intel Security Pitches Platform-Based Threat Defense Strategy

At the company's partner summit, officials build on the initiative to move away from point products in favor of a broader integrated effort.

Intel Security CTO

BOCA RATON, Fla.—Intel Security officials last year unveiled a shift in strategy in which the company was moving away from selling point security products and instead would focus on building out a platform approach that would better address that changing threat landscape.

At a time when hackers are rapidly developing new attack methods and broadening what they're targeting, the industry is struggling with a significant shortfall of cyber-security professionals and organizations are now having to protect themselves and their data in the face of the emerging Internet of things (IoT), it's unrealistic to believe a collection of traditional point products would be enough to keep the threats at bay, according to Steve Grobman, Intel Fellow and CTO of Intel Security (pictured).

Instead, what's needed is an agile platform of technologies that not only includes tools to defend the perimeter, but also to quickly detect when an attack is taking place, reduce the time between the attack and the detection, and to resolve the situation as quickly as possible to get the customer back to normal as quickly as possible, Grobman said. Organizations need to be able to address what company officials are calling the threat defense lifecycle.

Grobman and other executives with Intel Security took the stage here May 11 during the first of the two-day Ascending 2016 Partner Summit to outline the work the company is doing as it pursues this new strategy and to convince the 200 channel partners at the event that the strategy will mean a better experience for their customers and better business for them and Intel.

"Point products will be point products," Raja Patel, vice president and general manager of corporate products at Intel Security, said during the show. "They will come and they will go. … The only way to get the best outcome is with this integrated approach."

As the company has pivoted toward this new platform strategy, officials shed some technologies—such as mobile-device management, firewalls and email—and invested the money saved into the new initiative, from building new products and enhancing existing ones to putting together go-to-market strategies to push the platform plan to the channel and end users. Among the new and enhanced products the company has rolled out is the Data Exchange Layer (DXL), which enables instant communication and collaboration among disparate security technologies from multiple vendors, and Endpoint Security 10, for device security.

"This is a new company," said Kenneth McCray, head of Americas channel and sales operations for Intel Security. "This is not the same company we were two years ago. This is a new opportunity."

There are multiple drivers behind the strategy, according to company officials. Key among them is the growing aggressiveness and sophistication of attackers, Grobman said. In 2005, security officials saw 25 new malware threats per day, he said. Last year, that number hit 500,000 a day.

In addition, cyber-criminals are now expanding what they do and who they target. Before it was the largest organizations that were most at risk because attackers got the most return on their efforts. However, they're now turning their attention to smaller organizations, such as hospitals, using threats like ransomware. They no longer have to grab the data and then try to find people to pay for the data; instead, they simply can hold the data hostage until the organization pays the ransom to get it back.

Combine that with the tens of billions of connected devices that will become part of the IoT over the next few years and a shortage of skilled cyber-security professionals that could reach as many as 1.5 million and the challenges for organizations mount. What's needed is a combination of technology and people, Grobman said.

"We can solve it simply by throwing bodies at it, but we also can solve it by simply throwing technology at it," he said. "It's putting together those two things that will ultimately let us win."