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January 20, 2016updated 31 Aug 2016 9:53am

What does the launch of Intel’s Skylake processor mean for enterprise security?

Analysis: Company is aiming to solve the problem of breaches caused by lost or stolen credentials.

By James Nunns

Late on Tuesday afternoon Intel unveiled its 6th-gen Core processors, commonly known as Skylake.

The vPro Processor release finally ends speculation regarding what its specifications will be and highlights where the company’s focus is.

While the 5th gen release saw the company focus on mobile, the 6th generation is a full portfolio release covering both mobile platforms and the full range of desktop platforms.

The key takeaways would be the expected increased performance, but also the significant efforts made towards improving security.

The addition of up to three security safeguards is designed to appeal to the enterprise in a world that is increasingly being forced to address security concerns; Intel will be hoping that its multifactor authentication proves to be a hit.

CBR attended a pre-briefing on the 6th gen processor where Tom Garrison, VP, GM, Business Client Executive, Intel, said: "We know that through all of our work with the board of advisors, from research that we’ve done and with what’s been published out there is that security is the number one CIO and CISO concern.

"We also know that the high profile attacks that have occurred, over 50% of those breaches were due to lost or stolen credentials."

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He went on to say that this is one of the biggest vulnerabilities in the PC environment that exists today. To give some scale to it he said that there are over 750 million PCs in the world today that are vulnerable to this type of attack.

The Authenticate technology is a hardware-enhanced, multifactor authentication solution that is designed to strengthen identity protection on the PC. The three factors are: "something you know" so for example a password or pass code; "something you have," this can be your mobile phone; and "something you are," which can be your fingerprint.

IT policies will dictate how many of these factors you will need to provide, so this will depend on the type of content being accessed and the privileges that the user has.

The reason for doing this is because over 50% of breaches occur because of stolen credentials, so securing the PC is a key concern for Intel and businesses.

The pin display for the first factor is implemented from the graphics card and users won’t be able to use keys to type it in, instead the user must input through touch on a touch screen or by using the mouse. This is designed to thwart any efforts from malicious software that monitors what you are typing; a key logger.

The second factor will connect to your phone via Bluetooth and use logical location to see where you are accessing from by checking the networks around you.

To further beef up the security, Intel has made it so that the identifying elements and security policies set by your company aren’t stored on the disk drive; instead it is stored in a protected zone on the microprocessor.

Intel says that the Authenticate technology is true multi-factor technology, compared to others which may not be, Garrison, said: "This is true multi-factor, some people say multi-factor because they will have a choice of two or three different factors that you can choose from, but once you choose that factor, that’s your factor so it’s a single factor, you just chose from a list."

The security element is clearly a key element of the Skylake release, but increased power could be considered as important.

Intel said that the processor offers up to 2.5x the performances, three times the battery life and a 30x increase in graphics performance over a five-year-old system. It’s this increased power that has helped to enable companies like HP to bring out the next versions of software like Sprout.

Intel’s release coincided with HP.Inc release of Sprout Pro, the latest model of its Sprout computer which it is aiming at both education and business users.

The connection between the HP.Inc release and Intel’s is that Sprout Pro will be using the Skylake 6th generation Core processors.

The £1,899 the HP Sprout Pro offers a projector and scanner that sits above the screen that enables the touch mat to work as a 20-point touchscreen.

In terms of software it offers a special version of Microsoft’s Skype for Business; it’s special because it has been modified so that users can take advantage of the device’s capabilities.

The point of mentioning this is that HP.Inc, like others such as Lenovo, will all be releasing their next generation of devices that all use Skylake.

Skylake should deliver big business to the company and the big addition of Authenticate will make it even more appealable to enterprises.

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