Intel: Buying their way to Secure

The announcement yesterday that Intel was purchasing security software/hardware/services firm McAfee for $7.68 Billion dollars has certainly changed the security landscape. But was it a surprise? Dark Reading seems to think so: “…[this] took many in the security industry by surprise“.

I sincerely doubt that. In addition to the rumors of HP buyout for sometime (which Dark Reading mentions), there is a certain karmic reliability that ‘a company that lives by acquisition, will die by acquisition’ (pardon my paraphrasing of the Book of Matthew). McAfee’s acquisition list in the last two years included companies like MX Logic, and CEO David DeWalt claimed the company would continue to make 3-4 acquisitions per year for growth into the security sector. 

McAfee, of course, is not dead. In fact, the press announcement yesterday made it clear that the company will continue to operate as McAfee, retain their executive staff, and operate somewhat independently. I would argue this last part is critical for any company in the security arena — security is a strategic play, and unleashing an army of ROI snipers on a recently acquired security firm may well gut its core competencies in mere weeks to months.

A very important and Platonic idea has risen to press prominence as a result of this acquisition: processor requirements are now about 1. Energy-Efficient Performance, 2. Connectivity, and now coming in at a strong third is 3. Security. This idea has been espoused by CPU Tech for some time, and was highlighted by Mocana in their response to the announcement as well.

Dark Reading also framed the acquisition in light of the debate between ‘hardware security’ and ‘software security’, since Intel’s stated strategy is to improve device security in both ways. Few would argue that hardware security features have far fewer vulnerabilities (all other things being equal), but it may not be the right approach for enterprise customers who may have to worry about expensive hardware upgrades or ‘patches’. At the end of the day, the truth of this statement for different markets depends entirely on the order in which they prioritize their requirements: Power/Performance, Connectivity, Security.

Perhaps we can invoke the old MBA joke about ‘Cheap, Fast, Good’. Now: “Power/Performance, Connectivity, Security: Pick any two.”

For the military and high security markets that CPU Tech is focused on, hardware security is the only kind of reliable security. This is the only approach in which critically sensitive intellectual property will be protected in the future for license-based technology, vulnerable national infrastructure, and military-sensitive algorithms. 

Mocana has intepreted this event as well as a confirmation of a business strategy that makes security ‘device independent’. Taken at face value, this means not relying on hardwired security features or devices. This is only true if you accept Intel CEO Paul Otellini’s semantic ordering of power/performance, connectivity, and security literally. As a reminder, Otellini went on to say that “As you look at the businesses we’re in, we see that security is the No. 1 purchase consideration.”

For those with security as the number one purchase consideration, CPU Tech is ready to provide higher order secure hardware for a variety of security threats and situations.


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