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Intel and
McAfee took the first big step to rationalize the technology reason for the
marriage between the two companies with a product launch at the Intel Developer
Forum (IDF) this week that unleashes a hardware-assisted security technology
designed to mitigate risks at the sub-operating system level. Called McAfee
DeepSAFE, the product was demoed by Intel CEO paul Otellini during his IDF
keynote.

“McAfee
DeepSAFE uses hardware features already in the Intel processors to provide
security beyond the OS. From this unique vantage point, DeepSAFE can apply new
techniques to deliver a whole new generation of protection in real time to
prevent malicious activity and not just detect infections,” says Todd Gebhart,
co-president of Mcafee, who claims it to be a groundbreaking innovation for the
security industry.

This
insertion of technology at a deeper level of systems was one of the main
selling points of the $7.68 billion McAfee acquisition by
Intel last year. McAfee executives say they’re able to deliver real-time CPU
event monitoring with minimal performance impact. By placing security below the
OS, McAfee says that it will all but eliminate certain techniques like rootkits
and other stealthy means of attack dubbed Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) by
the security echo chamber.  Many APT
attack techniques are undetectable to tradtional antivirus security
technologies.

Rootkits in
particular have long been a thorn in the side of the big security companies.
Kernel mode rootkits are currently a favorite means of malware developers to
hide malware underneath the OS level of a system. The researchers at McAfee
Labs say that they find 1,200 new rootkits per day. McAfee says that DeepSAFE
was to reliably detect and stop a previously undocumented Agony rootkit from
infecting a system in real time.

“At McAfee
our customers and partners trust us to help them stay ahead of the
cybercriminals and keep their business protected,” says Michael DeCesare,
co-president of McAfee. “This technology and our joint collaboration with Intel
is the next evolution of security and will enable McAfee to continue to be the
trusted security provider to our largest and most complex customers.”

McAfee says
it will make DeepSAFE available by the end of 2011. It says that the technology
lays at the foundation of its initiative with Intel to bring security software
closer to the silicon and move beyond the constraints of the OS. It will work
in conjunction with McAfee’s existing endpoint security suite of products.