Feeds

Intel goes virtual to root out rootkits

DeepSafe: Follow the malware

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

IDF 2011 Intel bought McAfee so it could bring antivirus and intrusion detection closer to the chip, and with DeepSafe – a technology that CEO Paul Otellini previewed at Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco this week – the company will be making good on that promise.

DeepSafe will put some of the antivirus code underneath the operating system, in a virtualization layer that makes use of the VT hardware-assisted virtualization that is part of all modern Core processors for PCs and Xeon processors for servers.

Intel's Candace Worley

McAfee's GM of endpoint security
Candace Worley

DeepSafe will be the foundation of a number of different enterprise security products that the McAfee unit will roll out, beginning later this year. Joining Otellini on stage at IDF was Candace Worley, general manager of endpoint security at Intel's McAfee unit, who showed of a beta of McAfee antivirus software that does kernel-mode rootkit prevention.

"The traditional approach is really a software-based approach, and the challenge of that approach is that malware – for example, rootkits – load and embed themselves at the kernel level of the operating system, making it very difficult for antivirus products to actually see them and clean them," explained Worley.

"Using a combination of hardware and software allows us to monitor memory and processor activity, giving us a way of detecting the intrusion of unknown threats," explained Worley. "This is a fundamentally different approach to security."

Intel McAfee DeepSafe

Intel's McAfee DeepSafe rides below the OS

Intel did not divulge exactly how DeepSafe works and if it would require customers to run their operating system images on an actual hypervisor for it to work. From the diagram above, it looks like McAfee has in essence created a security hypervisor layer that nonetheless will allow an operating system to think that it is running on bare metal, even though it isn't. It stands to reason that this security hypervisor layer will not allow for virtual machine partitioning, and further than there will eventually be versions of it that ride below actual bare metal hypervisors, thus securing them.

Intel could obviously embed DeepSafe within ESXi, Xen, KVM, and Hyper-V hypervisors too, to secure virtual machine guests and their operating systems, but that would leave the hypervisor – which is really itself a kind of stripped down operating system with partitioning – exposed to security risks. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and if McAfee will support the AMD-V virtualization extensions for Fusion PC and Opteron server chips from Advanced Micro Devices. While Intel did not mention Xeon processors specifically in the DeepSafe presentation, there is no technical reason why it could not be used to secure server workloads.

McAfee says that more than 1,200 new rootkits per day are detected out there on the networks of the world. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.