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McAfee sees threats underscoring the need for hardware security

Kernel level attacks are increasingly undermining OS security approach
Wed Oct 24 2012, 09:45
McAfee Focus 2012

LAS VEGAS: SECURITY SOFTWARE VENDOR McAfee says the evolving class of advanced malware and targeted attacks are forcing vendors to rethink their approach to enterprise security.

Speaking at the company's 2012 Focus conference in Las Vegas, McAfee CTO Mike Fey told attendees that the emergence of advanced malware attacks such as Flame and Shamoon have put a higher importance on hardware-level protections.

Fey said that in addition to the threat of the attacks themselves, security firms now have to worry that the attack code and infiltration techniques introduced by the attacks are being adopted by attackers to create other malware infections.

The McAfee executive noted that the system bricking Shamoon attack in particular could lead the way for new attacks which disable the system at a kernel level as a means for concealing evidence and thwarting forensic investigations.

"What this represents is that quintessential scene in any mobster movie where they have done their damage and they are dousing everything in gasoline," he explained.

Even more distressing, said Fey, was the possibility for adaptation to other attacks. He said that as malware writers become more comfortable developing kernel-level attacks, the method could be used to facilitate any number of fraudulent activities.

In response, the company believes that security tools will need to move down to the kernel level, building security protections directly into the hardware itself.

Since the company's purchase by Intel, hardware integration has been a top priority for McAfee. Though the strategic angle has been stressed, executives said that the benefits of the Intel deal go beyond access to the chipmaker's products and designs.

"We are a company with incredible financial resources," said McAfee co-president Mike DeCesare. "We were in our own right the world's largest security company, now we are even more as a part of Intel." µ


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