Inside Intel, part 1: Evolution of IT security

How Intel works to stay on top of the security requirements of cloud, mobile, and other fast-growing trends

Like many other companies, processor manufacturer Intel Corp. is having to evolve its information security focus to meet the changes underway in the technology landscape—particularly with the rapid growth of mobile devices and applications and the rise in cloud computing services.

"We realize the importance of detective controls and building out our security business intelligence capabilities to scale and meet future business objectives around computing," says Alan Ross, senior principal engineer at Intel.

"We must have the ability to aggregate, correlate and even visualize many billions of events per day. This type of scale requires investment in many areas."

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One particular area of focus for the company is mobility, Ross says. "In order to deliver the appropriate user experience for mobility, we need capabilities such as single sign-on and federation that will enable seamless access to applications and information without compromising the security of the information," he says.

Cloud computing brings a lot of opportunity, Ross says, "but with it come some security concerns that must be addressed in order to balance the capabilities with the risk. We continue to focus on application and data security as well as the ability to have near real-time visibility into what's occurring within these internal and external computing environments."

Much of the effort with cloud security will involve the use of security business intelligence (BI), Ross says. Among the other security technologies that will continue to play a key role in IT security are identity and access management, and Ross says initiatives in this area are growing at a rapid rate.

"We have principals—users, customers, workers, suppliers—who need access to our applications and systems," Ross says. "As we scale out our security capabilities to comprehend devices, applications and data, we will need to scale our identity and access management capabilities accordingly while investigating new capabilities around authentication, federation, single sign-on, policy decisions and access management."

That's something Intel has been working on for the past couple of years, Ross says, and will continue to focus on in the future.

As technology continues to evolve, companies' information will be at risk from security threats, Ross says. "We need to make unique usage models and combinations of technologies such as enterprise rights management [and] data loss prevention (DLP), along with having the ability to secure information and data across the entire lifecycle," he says.

"We also need to be able to automatically tag and classify information so it can be appropriately protected."

To meet many of its information security challenges, Intel will continue to focus on identity and access management, data protection and security business intelligence, Ross says.

What are the risks of not doing anything to address the ongoing shifts in IT?

"The biggest risk we run as an IT organization is that we are unable to meet the needs of our business, and they [will] seek services elsewhere," Ross says.

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"It is incumbent upon us as IT and security professionals to insure that we can meet and exceed the needs of the business, and security is fundamental in this equation."

Another risk "is that we would be left with antiquated systems and an inability to detect emerging threats and attacks, react appropriately and protect Intel's information along with that of our customers and partners globally," Ross says.

Coming soon: In part 2, we look at how Intel is preparing for changes in the IT security workforce.

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