Intel Takes Its Consumer Security to the Cloud

The chip maker is offloading the analytics work of its anti-malware engine to the cloud in an effort to increase the effectiveness in detecting cyber-threats.


Intel is turning to the cloud to make its consumer security capabilities more effective.

The chip maker's security group this week unveiled enhancements to its McAfee AntiVirus Plus, Internet Security, Total Protection and LifeSafe software suite that aim to protect the growing number and variety of connected devices consumers are using as the internet of things (IoT) ecosystem continues to grow.

"People are enjoying more and more connected devices as part of everyday life—in their homes, in their cars and even in the things they wear," John Giamatteo, corporate vice president and general manager at Intel Security, said in a statement. "This wave of new connectivity is exciting, and a reminder that security is more important than ever. We know our customers need solutions that protect their digital lives, particularly as connectivity continues to rise and threats continue to evolve."

The enhanced security offerings are aimed at both PCs and Apple Macs, as well as mobile devices running on Apple's iOS and Google's Android mobile operating systems.

Central to the upgraded lineup is the McAfee Next Generation Anti-Malware Engine, which uses behavioral analytics and machine learning to better automatically detect and block malware as it arises without having to rely on human research, according to Intel officials. It's also more efficient and effective at detecting malware threats by offloading the analytics work to the cloud, they said.

In addition, Intel Security's True Key provides multifactor authentication to enable consumers to log in to websites safely using such technologies as facial recognition and fingerprints. Among the updates to the software are master password reset and the ability to import data from other password managers. The True Key app is included with LifeSafe, Total Protection and Internet Security.

Intel Security also is offering enhancements to protection features for Mac and Android devices that officials said increases the ability to detect threats in the systems. The chip maker also is making a Virus Protection Pledge that comes when a customer's subscription is renewed automatically, promising that if a consumer's device is infected with a virus they can't handle, the McAfee support group will remove it or the customer gets a refund.

In announcing the enhancements, company officials pointed to not only the growing number of connected devices consumers are using but also the rise in threats to those devices, particularly ransomware. According to the McAfee Labs Threat Report released in June, new ransomware—wherein hackers steal data and refuse to give it back until a ransom has been paid—has grown 120 percent since the first quarter 2015.

At the same time, most consumers now own at least three connected devices, putting a greater emphasis on the need for enhanced security capabilities, they said.

Intel Security's announcement comes a month before the company's Focus 2016 security show, which runs Nov. 1-3 in Las Vegas. It also comes a month after Intel announced it is spinning out its cyber-security software business in a partnership with private equity firm TPG in a deal worth about $4.2 billion. Intel and TPG will create a new, independent company based on the Intel Security unit and retaining the name the McAfee name. TPG will own 51 percent of the new company, while Intel will own the other 49 percent.

Intel bought McAfee in early 2011 for $7.6 billion with the idea of integrating more security capabilities into its chips to offer better protection from everything from PCs to servers. The unit has made money over the years, but officials are steering the company in other directions to address such emerging markets as IoT, virtual reality, the cloud and data center systems.