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Intel: Security should be free and ubiquitous rather than opt-in

04 Oct 2013
McAfee Focus 2013 main stage Intel

LAS VEGAS: High-technology companies need to drop archaic opt-in security models and begin designing products with fully integrated security from the get-go, and even give them away free, according to Intel president Renee James.

James claimed the current opt-in security model that requires businesses to proactively tag security services onto their devices and systems is no longer effective.

"We believe that raising the base line of security to a level where at very minimum everyone is protected is not an opt-in any more," she said at a McAfee event in Las Vegas. "We have responsibility in the computing industry and we in particular as a leader in the industry, to make it non-optional. We're no longer living in a world where you can say 'yeah if you want security then turn it on. If you want a firewall go ahead and turn it on'. It's just not ok, to work like that anymore."

James added that based on the magnitude of threats, security needs to be built-in "from the get-go. They shouldn't have to opt in or out for it, and maybe they shouldn't even have to pay for it, maybe it should be ubiquitous."

The Intel president cited the growing number of smart devices being used by businesses as proof old security models are no longer workable. "We actually believe the way computing fundamentally works, the architecture, what's happening with the data centre, what's happening with mobile device proliferation, for all of this security will be central," she said.

"We're going to build teeny teeny little things that all connect and can send data back, so it's not just the billion and half smartphones, it's the billions of other devices out there. You can't solve this one application at a time."

The number of smart devices being used by businesses is an ongoing security concern due to the extended number of entry points into company systems they offer hackers. Prior to James' warnings, experts from Europol, Trend Micro and the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance (ICSPA) warned that hacker attacks on new smart devices, like Google Glass, will cause real-world harm by 2020, if manufacturers do not increase their focus on security.

James said Intel's cross-industry reach and use in multiple devices and technologies puts it in a unique position to help solve the security crisis.

"We touch everything. You don't have to own everything to touch it and we certainly touch the data centre, the cloud. Once you see all those things you're in a very unique position," she said. "There are very few companies that can turn round and say they're going to fix security, to go 'that's wrong I'm going to fix it'. We're one of those companies. It's not altruistic because we know we'll sell more if it's secure."

The Intel chief is one of many technology experts to call for increased industry focus on security. Last week, F-Secure web reputation service expert Christine Bejerasco listed the failure of free cloud services, such as Facebook, Twitter and Dropbox, to adequately test their security before launching as a key problem facing the technology industry.

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Alastair Stevenson

Alastair has worked as a reporter covering security and mobile issues at V3 since March 2012. Before entering the field of journalism Alastair had worked in numerous industries as both a freelance copy writer and artist.

View Alastair's Google+ profile

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