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Intel amps up data center security with Intel Software Guard Extensions

By Wong Chung Wee - on 16 Feb 2017, 3:00pm

Intel amps up data center security with Intel Software Guard Extensions

(Image source: Intel)

At the RSA Conference 2017, Intel has announced the availability of Intel Software Guard Extensions (Intel SGX) technology for data center operations. This is to enhance the security of data centers, especially at the software services and applications level.

The 6th gen Intel Core "Skylake" CPU is the first to support Intel SGX. (Image source: Intel)

The Intel SGX technology was first announced in September 2015, and the 6th generation Intel Core "Skylake" processors were the first to feature SGX technology.

(Image source: Intel)

In essence, the Intel SGX technology enables application developers to segregate their applications into CPU hardened “enclaves”, which are “protected areas of execution that increase security even on compromised platforms.” According to Intel, an application that supports Intel SGX, and operating on a system that features this security technology, will still be able to protect and secure data, even if the system has been compromised.

At runtime, the Intel SGX instructions build & execute the enclave into a special protected memory region with restricted entry/exit location defined by the developer. (Image source: Intel)

This is because any unauthorized application will not be able to access the enclave that has been defined by the application developer. Even if the malware attempts to replicate any enclave, it would have to gain access to attestation keys that are stored securely on another service provider. This adds another layer of application security. According to Intel, CPUs that are launched after October 2015 will have support for Intel SGX technology. Now, the company has officially extended Intel SGX technology to data centers, starting with the Intel Xeon E3 v5 platform, targeting “entry-level servers and security appliances.” Intel will also work together with its partners to further enhance security solutions for future data center platforms.

(Source: Intel)

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