Remote ‘kill switch’ added to Intel’s newest processor
Lauded as a security feature, Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processor can be remotely disabled by a hardware/software combination known at Anti-Theft 3.0. Systems can be disabled over 3G networks, even while the OS is not running. Even when the hard drive is replaced, the critical systems will still be terminated.
At first this sounds great: if an owner loses a laptop it can be remotely disabled to ensure no sensitive data is compromised. But essentially we are giving up control of our computers and putting that control in another’s hands.
Sandy Bridge is the code name for Intel’s microprocessor architecture and is the successor to Nehalem. Allen said although Sandy Bridge is now shipping to Intel’s distribution and original equipment manufacturer partners, Intel Premier partners are the only ones that may purchase it in advance of the general release date, which is scheduled to coincide with CES.
“This is our first microprocessor where we have one billion transistors on a single CPU like this,” Allen said. “Now we’ve built in more thermal capabilities and performance enhancements. With Sandy Bridge, we’ll still have the naming conventions for Core i3, Corei5 and Core i7.”
Among the new performance capabilities are improved integrated graphics, faster processing and better security and trust features designed to keep the computing environment more secure.
With Intel anti-theft technology built into Sandy Bridge, Allen said users can set it up so that if their laptop gets lost or stolen, it can be shut down remotely. The microprocessor also comes with enhanced recovery and patching capabilities.
Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture can also be used to help businesses create smarter data centres, Allen said. In Canada, this is especially meaningful for small businesses because they’re typically more aggressive at utilizing cloud services than larger organizations are, he added.
“As we go forward into 2011, Sandy Bridge will deliver the security, connectivity and performance options that businesses need and we’ll rely on our channel to help deliver this to the SMB market.”
In addition to Sandy Bridge, Allen said Intel’s other computing solutions present many market opportunities for partners.
“Our view is to drive the interoperability and seamless connectivity of personal computing experiences across a continuum so it all works together on Intel architecture,” Allen said. “We’ve evolved from being a chip company to a computing solutions company with platforms, software and services.”
A thief isn’t going to care about a kill switch. All a thief wants is the hard disk and all he needs is a screwdriver. For those who want to protect their computers from thieves, the ability to remotely disable them sounds great. We’re not sure the CPU is the component that should be targeted though. While a given stolen netbook, laptop, or desktop can no longer be turned on if Intel’s new kill switch is flipped, there’s nothing stopping the thief from taking out the HDD and putting it in another computer. As a result, you’ve only slightly slowed the criminal down and haven’t really managed to ensure your sensitive data is protected. Most consumers will be fooled into thinking their data is protected by a processor kill switch.
All in all, it’s a terrible idea, and I know where Intel got the idea. Microsoft stated that they might work on a feature for Windows that would disallow a computer access to the internet if it was suspected to have a virus installed on it and lets not forget that MAC’s use the Intel processor now.
Also, lets not forget about the hacker that finds a security flaw in the system used to send the kill signals, and goes on a rampage disabling as many computers as they can (which fate will ensure will be the vast majority that have been sold with these processors at the least, and after thousands/millions of them have been sold and are in average users’ desktops/laptops).
Trying to remove my malware? DOOM on you!……….ZAAPP!!! Sandy Bridge processors will be several accidents waiting to happen.
I have a included a listing of processors due to be out in 2011 with this technology.