Earlier this year, Intel also announced new features that extend malware behavior-detection further onto the CPU level and wall off virtualized software systems from attack, along with new tools meant to help desktops communicate directly with so-called network access control (NAC) systems, which are used for device configuration monitoring and network authentication.
In another nod to extended management capabilities, the Danbury features will also provide IT organizations with the option to gain remote access to encrypted machines to patch them -- without any interaction on the part of end users, Grobman said, and give administrators the ability to set parameters for implementation of encryption applications using Microsoft Active Directory.
Companies that have already installed encryption programs often find it a time-consuming process to help users who forget their computer passwords regain access to their machines, Intel executives claim.
And whereas administrators of encrypted machines are often forced to decrypt entire disk drives to perform tasks including operating system updates today, the new vPro features will eliminate complex software processes that make for such arduous work, they promised.
With a growing number of regulatory mandates requiring companies to encrypt the data stored on their computers, and large numbers of high-profile corporate data breaches splashed across the headlines, many companies have moved to deploy the systems and subsequently found them too unwieldy to employ on a broad basis, said Malcolm Harkins, general manager of Intel's Information Risk and Security Group.
The fact that today's encryption systems don't provide full-time disk protection, as many users think they do, has even led Intel itself to delay broad use of the technology, he said.
"We have not moved to deploy full disk encryption simply because we didn't feel it was worth it to spend millions of dollars to add technologies that wouldn't provide sufficient levels of defense," Harkins said. "I don't think that many companies that have already installed encryption software realize the shortcomings, and that by putting their faith in these tools they may actually be increasing their overall risk."
Harkins pointed out that companies using existing encryption tools may also run afoul of e-discovery regulations if users have data stored on machines that cannot be accessed centrally by administrators, such as in the case of a lost or forgotten password.
"When you start looking at the legal implications with these regulations, you realize that there are also some additional risks that these companies may not be aware of," he said. "People are adopting encryption as a solution to some of these problems, but they may be creating additional problems for themselves in the long-term."