If Tuesday’s Intel Vision 2022 keynote offered a hopeful glimpse of the future of information technology, Wednesday’s address was a sobering reminder about the extraordinary efforts being made to secure that emerging technology. The chip behemoth also announced the launch of Project Amber, a cloud security subscription service that will be available to select clients later this month.
Greg Lavender, Intel’s senior vice president, chief technology officer and general manager of the Software and Advanced Technology Group (SATG), hosted a wide-ranging discussion about security challenges and Intel’s role in the larger tech community. Lavender noted research from Cybersecurity Ventures that predicts new ransomware attacks on organizations every two seconds by 2030, an increase of 33 percent. And with technology developing at a blistering pace, with mind-blowing quantum computing set to take over our digital lives, now is the time to secure that future.
“Let me start by setting the overall environment that we’re all facing and share with you some of the work Intel is doing now and in the future to mitigate the risk,” Lavender said. “It’s not just the threat of attacks, but the actual exploits that are increasing. We are unfortunately at a point where today’s attacks use malware without ever having to write any code… And the proliferation of threats is just as relentless as the pace of innovation.”
Lavender said it was important for companies to take a non-competitive stance on security, making sure networks, software and hardware are protected. “During yesterday’s keynote, you heard from my colleagues about the ways in which we’ve all adapted and innovation has unleashed across vertical markets as a result of this rapid digital transformation we are all experiencing. But every innovation brings its own set of new challenges... it’s creating an attack surface and attack vectors at a scale that we’ve never seen before.”
Here’s what else Lavender talked about.
On Project Amber
Project Amber‘s initial offering will be a cloud agnostic multi cloud federated service with provable integrity of its verification processes. We are launching a pilot for Project Amber for select customers later this year… It is so important to have these security innovations I have highlighted so that requires the hardware and software working together. Our software-first strategy, which I’m driving for the company is a competitive advantage with investments and contributions over many decades. Over the last five years, Intel invested over US$250 million in advancing open-source software security… Building on an incredible foundation of commercial and open-source software, we can deliver new subscription services and solutions such as Project Amber to meet the growing needs of our customers. The middle layer, which I call market-differentiating software, consists of all the large sets of tools, libraries, languages and framework - much of it open source - and the middle layer gives our customers a lot of choice. Intel investments contributed significantly into the open-source software projects guided by our commitment to an open ecosystem approach.
Intel hacking Intel
The proliferation of threats is just as relentless as the pace of innovation, which is why we design and engineer all of our products and services with security in mind. Even through our own ethical hacking of our own products. The internal hacking and external research provides a predictable quarterly cadence of security updates. As part of our Intel platform update, we just announced one this week, which patches a number of security defects – 73 percent of which we found ourselves- and the others were found by ethical hackers working with us and we even pay them a bounty. These mitigations and security improvements give our customers a higher level of protection against evolving threats. As a result, we deliver an impressive range of security capabilities across an unmatched portfolio from cloud to edge to client. We understand businesses have more technology than ever to manage as they support remote workforces. A multitude of devices and uninterrupted access and collaboration. Intel has the same challenges. We‘ve all gone through the same things we all operate in and depend on the cloud. Technology solutions therefore need to secure data not only at rest and in transit, but also in protecting valuable assets and minimizing those attack services both in and out of our control is critical. I have been a very demanding customer of Intel for decades and understand the challenges all of us face as an industry.
Securing artificial intelligence (AI) for humanity
It’s not only security that is everywhere but intelligence is everywhere. As AI propels new technology even further enabling insights and automation to handle complex tasks, it is important to develop AI that is both secure and responsible.
It’s impossible for you to talk about the cloud without recognizing AI’s contributions to the rise in the amount of data that‘s being generated in the data workloads, the models that are being executed. The promise of AI and machine learning have paved the path and deployment across verticals, and include healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, retail, entertainment, etc. And the proliferation of sensitive information as the growing threat landscape, and more importantly, the security and privacy concerns surrounding it. And until we believe in enabling society to make decisions about the responsible use of AI, we are working to provide the security technologies to enforce those decisions. The ethics associated with responsible use of AI also serve as a perfect example of how we can come together to help ensure technology improves the lives of every person on the planet. Our engineers working on future technologies are guided by a compass that leads them to answer one question before they decide to continue pursuing development: does the technology contribute to improving our society? They asked this question during the various stages of technology development to prove its merit. Maintaining data integrity, accuracy and privacy is always at the heart of Intel’s industry leading research efforts.
The Excitement And Challenges of Quantum Computing
Soon, we will all enter the era of quantum computing we‘ve read about in the papers. This will present with a new set of opportunities to solve complex problems out of reach at today’s largest computers... At the same time, we recognize the startling possibility of a quantum computer breaking advanced encryption methods in mere seconds. That is why security technologies must accommodate and evolve not just to meet the needs of today, but tomorrow as well. It‘s why security underpins everything we do at Intel, the only hardware and software company with the breadth and depth of expertise in technology to support your businesses.
So ultimately, quantum computers have the potential to provide competition abilities that computers cannot match. And there‘s lots of good things about that. However, publicly, cryptography serving as the foundation of secure transactions over the internet could be compromised with quantum computers. And attackers will have the ability to break symmetric crypto algorithms… When can we expect these powerful quantum computers to start posing a serious threat? There’s a lot of debate about this. And while it‘s hard to predict the exact timeline, as quantum technology continues to develop, quantum experts are anticipating a moment in the next, say 10-plus years, where we as an industry will reach a similar situation as we saw with the infamous Y2K Millennium Bug. It’s been called Y2Q … (it’s going to take) all of us, all the industry, partnering to… find solutions if you want to be quantum resistant by 2030. Although fully capable quantum computers are not yet available today, adversaries can still pose a threat by harvesting today‘s encrypted data with lower encryption quality now, and decrypting it later when quantum computers are built.