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back to article Fear as motivator: why Intel acquired McAfee

Intel and McAfee made a surprise announcement early Thursday that the chip megamaker plans to acquire the security-software giant in a $7.68bn all-cash deal, and across the technical and financial communities, the response was a nearly unanimous "WTF?" But during a webcast conference with reporters and analysts, Intel CEO Paul …

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Grenade

Trying to kick start a dead donkey of a failed capitalist market economy with a turkey investment?

"It's all about creating a perception in the minds of millions of consumers that the cloud is a scary place — a scenario, as we noted, that Intel went out of its way to promote in Thursday's webcast "

Hmmm? Those who know the Cloud and clouds extremely well know the extreme FUD in that offering, and therefore also the real precarious state of Intel's Intellectual Property position in the new market place.

If you agree with ..... The Cloud and ITs clouds are all about Sublimely Controlling Perception, and that is also for Absolute Power over the Virtually Primitive Minds of billions of consumers/devices/virtual machines ..... award yourself a gold star, for that is where IT is at today.

And if you aint playing in that theatre of operations, you aint gonna be doing anyone any good and will be subject to remote third party control shenanigans, which would be their simple desires and complex wishes.

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WTF?

I am going mad?

Because amanfrommars actually made sense to me there....!

The other thing that makes sense is buying AMD CPU's the moment Intel start bundling a copy of McAfee with every chip. I do NOT want a slice on horrible bloatware that's murder to uninstall.

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Yes you're going mad

His post doesn't make a lick of sense.

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No, he's right

The message was extremely clear - must go lie down now

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As A Hatter

A) Going to the other side will not help. AMD is losing this war, but they have yet to surrender. Intel has the goods hardware-wise.

B) There would be no "uninstalling" of firmware!

Interesting to see how they pull this off. McAffee is a Windows product. Logic may remain the same (keep bad guys out), but implementation will be completely different at the chip level. Perhaps DNSSEC would be involved, who knows. One thing for sure, anti-virus is not a requirement. For this to work there will HAVE to be the ability to turn it off. There are times when it is not needed.

I'm not envisioning bundling of a 'doze only product, or a re-working of that product for Mac or *nix. At chip level you don't care about the operating system. They're going to have to come up with a completely different implementation of what "anti virus" means.

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Embedded

When I heard the announcement, my first thought was dedicated on-motherboard anti-virus crunching.

This would perhaps be implemented using an ASIC with in-built heuristics processing to off-load the CPU and O/S from such mundane tasks.

Virus signatures could still be updated perhaps using on-board storage like the new SanDisk iSSD -- which could also hold the operating system. Main storage for data would be off board.

Nice, neat solution (which will no doubt get ripped apart by the rest of you!) :)

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Paris Hilton

Obviously.

You just run the viruscode in a separate thread on the processor. And then don't let it interact with anything. And let it run very slowly so it doesn't use almost any energy. Simple!

Or actually run all programs in separate threads depending on their dodgyness; and then let the user's security setting (from "AOL retard" to "paranoid") kill all threads above a given level.

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Hmmm.

"This would perhaps be implemented using an ASIC "

You know all those updates you keep getting for virus scanners, every time someone writes a new virus? We'll, the cost could head marginally north if its an ASIC re-spin that gets delivered 4 times a week.

Just saying.

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Anonymous Coward

I agree

The cloud is a scary place. That's why I try to stay out of it.

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FAIL

Security in hardware

I've heard that before. I think it was called Palladium.

As for purchasing that clusterfuck known as McCrappy, well I think the WTF? still applies.

If they manage to infect their CPU's with McCrappy "quality" security mechanisms then I guess I will be restricting myself to AMD, unless the ARM camp get themselves sorted anyway.

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Joke

Well, at least they didnt buy...

Norton/Symantec

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Just a quickie

"We also recently launched the Intel anti-theft technology, which will disable a computer if it's lost or stolen."

The smart thief knows that a computer is worth less on the black market than its component parts. Just like cars.. you can fit the best immobiliser in the world but it doesn't stop a professional from jacking it onto a pickup, taking it back to the workshop, ripping it apart and selling the bits.

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most of the eleventy-squillion was wasted...

the "Intel Inside" campaign is one of the biggest, lamest marketing flops of all time.

what's the unique brand promise that it's ever successfully established?

the Intel "experience" is for the vast majority of people really the Windows experience: vulnerable as hell; grinding to a halt after a few years of accumulating viruses etc., so you just go buy another box.

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I don't know how much of it is marketing

however Intel was "inside" 81.0% of PC and laptops built in Q1 2010

Intel inside 100% of Apple Mac ..

I've not had an Intel chip fail in 13 years .. my 200MMX still boots up fine ..

"Intel Inside" might be lame .. but it means reliability to me

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Codswallop

Enough said

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Anonymous Coward

Intel Insider information

Might not Intel being in 81% of PCs be more to do with their anticompetitive practices than the comparative value of their product?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/08/04/ftc_settles_with_intel/

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The fact that...

The mere fact that you can still get T-Shirts with something that looks remarkably like that "Intel Inside" logo but say, oh such witty things as "Satan Inside", is testament to the success of the campaign I'd have thought.

Besides - I tend to buy chips on performance (judged by published benchmark results before purchase) - and I'm now on my first Intel processor for a long time (previous 2 home PCs were AMD), Intel have taken the lead at the moment.

Must admit though - my current i7 overclocks beautifully.

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Linux

Nokia next?

It would be huuuuuuuuuuuuge. Get Nokia to ditch it's terrible software business, put Intel's on there (Intel already pays Nokia to get into Meego), combine Intel's hardware with Nokia's manufacturing and logistics skills to produce a mobile behemoth.

Seeing as how Intel paid 57% more than McAfee is worth, this would price a share in Nokia at, what, $13 - $15 per share? Adding to that, Nokia is considered well undervalued at the moment too so that 's not a bad price for 40% of the smartphone market and essentially the rest of the mobile phone market. Hmm, time to go long Nokia I think.

It would mean the end of Symbian though.

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FAIL

No, seriously, WTF

I'm sorry. I have worked for Intel. What they know about security doesn't fit on a single index card. Intel's internal VPN was a nightmare, it's solution set for the machines it gives employees results in massive degradation in performance and battery life, and Intel itself was brought to its knees by a McAfee virus update file,

Since they haven't been able to eat security dog-food correctly, what makes anybody think they will be able to do it "right" for everybody else?

And, Intel can put all the security bits it wants in its silicon, if the price/performance ratio isn't right for a smartphone, or its performance/watt isn't right, nobody will care.

Dumb.

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Makes perfect sense.

Intel undoubtedly found out that it's cheaper to buy Mcaffe than licenses for all the AV software on their in-house machines. Strictly economics.

Unlike many of the rest of us, who've realized that AV signature detection is a scam technology. We instead save the money by uninstalling the AV programs and using other technologies (the ones you may not be aware of because they're not associated with slimy scare-tactic marketing). Technologies like execution protection, signaturing and whitelisting all known executables, etc. Better permissions controls, not running as Admin, etc. External firewall appliances. You know, technologies that can actually prevent a virus invasion from happening in the first place, rather than just attempting to detect it after it already has...

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Not quite right

I've got no problem with intel trying to get further into the software ecosystem. And there's no doubting that the software industry is plagued by major security deficiencies at nearly every bend. Despite the widespread publicity, we're still fighting with the same vulnerabilities being implemented over and over again.

However, I am having trouble seeing why any of mcafee's product line should be developed in silicon. They sell a security solution which intercepts attacks before they reach microsoft's holes, which is good, but we still need the os/app to fix the root cause.

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WTF?

Today's phrase that pays -- WTF?

First off; MacAfee -- Really!? Of all of the security vendors, that's your choice? And you want to pay a premium!? ...er, Ok.

More importantly; last time I checked the black hat malware writers were winning the war with the white hat security vendors. I can't imagine moving the AV software into silicon is going to help long term. Likely to make things easier. Somehow I suspect that I will still need to run security software on top of all of this.

Besides haven't we been down a similar road before with Microsoft? If buying and integrating an AV vendor worked out so well for them, I surprised that Intel needs or want to. Inspite of how tasty securing the mobile space may seem.

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Linux

I am concerned

Obviously Intel has decided to double down on their commitment to their oldest and best friend in the industry. This does not bode well for Linux, which neither has nor needs any McAfee products.

Maybe it's time to shift to ARM on the client anyway and this will be a temporary nuisance.

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FAIL

Failed strategy, failing faster.

If you could show me just one AV product today whose only deficiency was that it needed silicon to make it effective, this might make some sense. But let's be real for a moment. The pros are in the game now and any serious threat has been successfully tuned to get through the latest versions of every single AV product, with all the knobs turned up to 11, long before it hits the street. All Intel's going to do is make sure the exploit gets to run a little sooner.

Fix the real problem: an insecure OS.

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Coffee/keyboard

Intel & Mickeysoft

Intel has been joined at the hip with Mickeysoft for the past decade. Now the world is moving away from the Mickeysoft O/S and Intel decides to spend billions on a company that (marginally) secures the dying Mickeysoft O/S?

McAfee shareholders must be ecstatic about this move - Intel shareholders, not so much.

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Eleventy squillion.

I am glad to see my favourite demarcation of "a ridiculous amount of something" proliferating. Huzzah and cheering!

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Badgers

Badgers

The Intel execs must be eating ones with BSE. I still don't get this.

1) Any security mechanism in Silicon has nothing to do with any McAfee product.

2) It's really only Windows specific

3) The whole concept of how McAfee and other like products work is flawed.

IBM 1970s era "FUD". Psychology, not Technology?

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Anonymous Coward

Your all wrong....

McAfee = Dog slow.

New processor (intel of Course). Kerching.

1 year later

McAffe = Dog Slow

New Processor. Kerching.

1 year later......

See, you just keep making the AV more and more of a dog and people will keep buying new processors to keep up.

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Boffin

Virus Inside

Consider that systems can still work, in degraded levels of effectiveness when a Virus hits.

Now consider that with virus SW embedded what will happen.

Complete DDOS(ervices).

Virus Inside!

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I just assumed...

...that Intel were buying McAfee to find out how on earth a few bits of software can manage to bring high-end quad-core i7 and Xeon processors to their knees and drain them of significant percentages of their performance. Useful research for future generations of processor development, etc.

Of course, Symantec/Notrun would have been an even better match for that kind of research.

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DAMMIT

i need another keyboard ....

Top Post

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Alert

Intel analysis: Why marry?: Why not 'friends with benefits'?

In general, I agree with your analysis of why Intel wants to acquire McAfee. However, in your anaysis, I think you glossed over two points: Why so much? IMNSHO, it is because Intel wants the deal to close fast before anybody really thinks about it - and I would include AMD, Microsoft, HP and Oracle with your cast of characters.. Also "why marry rather than just being friends with benefits?" My answer is it's Intel corporate policy to talk rather than write, and to wink rather than talk as Mr. Orlowski pointed in "Why Intel doesn't write stuff down" (El Reg, 24th April 2003).

Wink, wink.

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Re

I think you're close. I work in IT distribution and the word this whole summer has been "HP is going to buy McAfee".

That answers "why marry". It is possible Intel had to outbid HP. That answers the "why 60% premium?".

Open and shut case?

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Winsecurity

Mobile malware is a problem, but McAfee isn't the solution. Buying McAfee guarantees that other security vendors will build closer relationships with ARM - and time will tell whether we need a new model operating system and better security on the device or a new model for mobile e-commerce where the device is simply assumed to be compromised.

This reminds me of the last days of the telecoms bubble, where the only thing that mattered was the size of the deal plus a powerpoint majoring on the word 'synergy.' Mcafee has been bought because it's big enough. Unfortunately it's not good enough to give Intel what it needs, and it guarantees further cooling in the Wintel alliance.

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WTF Still Stands

"Since when was the MaCrappee product any good?", he types, sitting at a PC which slows to a crawl at frequent intervals and at which time Task Manager reports huge gobbets of processor time dedicated to aforesaid MaCrappee.

It's at such times I need El Reg and the BOFH (assuming there's enough horsepower left to run IE, that is). I reckon a decent gobful of coffee, liberally sprayed over the processor box, would cause several pounds worth of improvement and force a replacement.

So: WTF^2

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$7.68bn is just the beginning

A year later they get a message on the screen saying the version of McAfee they've bought has just expired but they can renew by paying $7.68bn

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Coffee/keyboard

DAMMIT AGAIN

Today is not a good day for hardware on my desk ....

Actuallys ill just stop drinking now !!

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Joke

It's a cunning plan (allegedly)

Obviously this is really part of a plan by McSplafee. They've grown bored with merely bricking machines at the OS level, having proved they can do it with ease and in huge numbers.

So now comes the new idea: by becoming part of Intel, they can work towards bricking machines at the hardware level!

A brilliant plan, assuming you work from the presumption that McGaffee is in fact the incarnation of Dilbert's Mordac, the preventer of Information Services. It's a great step forward for them.

Not sure what Intel get out of it, other than getting to sell you another new motherboard every time McZapee eats your chipset....

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FAIL

STUPID!!!

I can understand Microsoft buying an AV company and they did well with their purchase of a small company with a good lab. But, why would INTEL buy a company that bases itself on the security issues of one OS? I will never buy an APPLE with a mcafee chip, nor will I buy a linux system with a mcafee chip. This is the worst MBA f'up I have ever seen. Intel, enjoy the lunacy that is McAfee..

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FAIL

This has to take the second prize

Second dumbest acquisition ever (AOL Time Warner @ 164B still takes 1st prize)

Security in hardware is actually a terriffic idea:

* Add some barrier registers to allow compilers and Operating systems to protect regions by comparing address bus in real time to preset locations.

* Add two more 'privilege' levels so there's some middle-ground between kernel/root and user-space (e.g. for compilers to be able to protect writing past the end of arrays)

* Add read-only, write-only, execute-only and any combinations thereof to prevent executing in stack/heap space and the like

* generate a hardware exception when any violation of barrier/rules occurs

This all can be done in hardware, in real time, and for very little cost: all it takes is:

- Some minor architecture extensions to x86

- A few more registers, a few more comparators and some multiplexers on the core

Implementing this right should render any malware which tries to write code into data-space and then execute it - useless. There's no need to engage in the futility of updating huge signature files on a daily basis and still miss all the zero-day exploits.

But buying a mediocre Windows anti-virus company for 7.7B ?!

WTF indeed.

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Unhappy

Been there, done that

Sounds like the VAX design, from 1978.

What goes around, comes around.

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no extensions required

Re: the suggestion of cpu extensions to x86... Not even needed!

barriers already exist for stack and such -- if implemented.

NX (non executeable) stuff in recent cpus is all about making the stack non-executable. In addition, in linux, segmentation is used on older processors to force a fault on any attempt to execute code on the stack.

extra security levels between kernel and user? Done. An ignored oddity of x86 is that kernel code runs at ring 0, and user code at ring 3. Ring 1 & 2 have existed since the 386.

The problem? "backdoors". For instance, newer windows uses nx, but apps can request that it be shut off. So that's just what malware does.

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Coat

Intel clippy?

"I see you have installed an Intel CPU, and you definitely need our anti-virus solution"

Mines the one with "Get out!"

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I'm guessing

that the plan isn't to just shift all the McAfee software into silicon - but just enough so the McAfee software gets an advantage over the other AV vendors. I mean it's not as if they can do something on the chip that will suddenly remove the need for AV updates - and therefore a subscription from the end user.

Retail versions could now ship with a 12 month 'CPU AV license' as well as a lovely fan/heatsink - and if after a year the user doesn't foolishly upgrade to the latest and greatest intel CPU, then they'll have the option of renewing their AV and Intel probably makes around the same profit margin on that. Now maybe the user would decide to go for a cheaper/free alternative - but I'd assume the benefits of the Intel solution will have been well plugged to them by then.

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What price non-wintel

Our company hosts servers for clients on just about every current O/S & chip combination possible. Paticularly AIX & Solaris, we use McAfee as standard, because it runs on everything from our PC's up.

So if McAfee now head towards Intel only architectures, that's going to drive our costs up for non-intel, and make a less competative platform. You might also wonder what they could do to the AMD market.

Sorrry not a fashionable view, but I like the choice of Sparc/Solaris, P/AiX, WINTEL, it at least drives competition. Would Intel have bothered with multi-core chips if Sun hadn't.

What will happen to hardware prices and performance if Intel gains an even more dominant position, remember IBM in the 60s.

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may it's just that

mcaffe has the higher name recognition with the general public these days, for good or bad, than semantec / norton, avg, avast, nod32 ...

for instance, AT&T / Yahoo DSL *offers* mcafee security suite to the point you basically have to opt out to avoid the crap ..most would likely just click the install button in the AT&T email recommending it, and it's free ..

There are a lot of free download sites that *certify* by McAfee the downloads are virus free

same with many web based email systems ( cPanel's Horde as I recall ) .. people see that McAfee name quite a bit these days ..

I don't get the logic of spending $7.68 billion ..

Has McAfee some *in* with mobile chip makers already ?

Maybe Intel is buying tech beyond just anti-malware in this

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Joke

Hello again

Arkady here.

When I heard Intel blow wad of cash up against wall for Crapafee I had vision.

Hardware support for "standard" (IE Crapafee internals) AV architecture with Intel charging *big* bucks to AV suppliers for API .

This means that any flaw in architecture will be exploitable for *years*. As for cost of API and architecture manuals, well as head of largest botnet gang I'm sure someone will take credit card for data.

As for hardware architecture with *no* exploitable flaws for AV. Well Popes, bears, sky and rain come to mind.

I fell to knees in prayer to dark gods.

Just after I shorted Intel big time.

Got to go. People to see, software to get written, IP to steal.

Dosvidanya.

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WTF?

Is that an AV setting in your BIOS?

As I am an old and gnarly user and I mainly use a Mac at home I don't need or use any AV bloatware at all, however I also own a PC. Common sense not McAfee, Symantec or any other AV subsciption has kept the Wintel part of the fleet shiny side up. Yes I do all those horrible updates from MS too, we all do, but I don't need AV!

So.. Intel believe that they will now keep me secure at hardware level? I mean, where will this part of the security fit into the architecture? Will Intel shoehorn it into the EFI? Perhaps a new ASIC on the chipset? What will the overhead be on the system performance?

More importantly, can I disable it or will it be anbother autocratic addition to the forthcoming features of my future x86 system/s?

I think what worries me the most is that chipzilla are taking a leaf from Microsoft's book and enforcing crap on me that I just don't believe I need.

/rant=over..

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re

I think the mistake you and many others are making is that when Intel said they want to add AV to the hardware level that they were talking about personal systems.

They are much more interested in modems and embedded systems (like the ones in cars which will be going internet ready when 4G gets implemented).

Not very "net neutrality" probably, but imagine if your cable modem or the ISP hardware one level out from that could filter out viruses. It wouldn't matter how many times you clicked that stupid banner ad, you'd never get a virus. Kind of like ad block, but before the system level.

Is that a good idea? Will we end up with bricked ISPs instead of bricked PCs? Who knows. If they can do it RIGHT it would be huge for the world.

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