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Intel develops new chip technology to block hardware-based cyberattacks

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Intel today detailed A new chip technology designed to help organizations more effectively block hardware-based hacking attempts.

Some cyberattacks exploit vulnerabilities in software installed on servers to steal data. Other cyberattacks target the servers themselves rather than the software running on them. Hackers cause hardware malfunctions in order to weaken the cybersecurity controls of the targeted machine and access its data.

The new chip technology Intel detailed today is known as TRC (Tunable Replica Circuit). According to the company, TRC can automatically detect several common types of hardware-based cyberattacks. After the technology detects a hacking attempt, administrators can take steps to block it.

TRC has uncovered a hardware-based cyberattack that targets central processing unit clock pins (the tiny wires that control clock speed). The clock speed of a CPU is the pace at which it performs certain major computing operations. According to Intel, TRC can also detect cyber-attacks that attempt to cause errors in the CPU by using electromagnetic waves or changing the amount of power supplied to the chip.

TRC detects such hacking attempts by monitoring when the CPU performs computations.

Modern processors contain billions of transistors that manipulate electricity to perform computations. The operation of the transistors is coordinated by a clock generator, a special component built into the processor. The clock generator optimizes the timing at which transistors perform arithmetic operations to ensure that operations are performed efficiently.

Hardware-based cyber-attacks that Intel’s TRC technology is designed to detect cause subtle changes in when the CPU’s circuits perform computational operations. When the TRC detects such changes, it can determine that a hacker is trying to access data in the CPU.

TRC was originally developed by Intel’s Intel Labs research division to detect common technical problems in CPUs. The research department then worked with the company’s Physical Attack and Side Channel Analysis Lab and Client Computing Group to adapt the technology to cyberattack detection.

Intel has included TRC in their latest generation Alder Lake CPU lineup. Rather than embedding this technology directly into the CPU, the company implemented it in an external component called the Platform Controller Hub. The Platform Controller Hub is a standalone chip that is deployed alongside the Intel processors in servers and performs certain cybersecurity tasks, such as checking firmware for signs of hacking.

According to Intel, one of the main challenges with developing the TRC was optimizing its accuracy. The company’s engineers wanted to prevent commonly occurring CPU errors from being falsely flagged as malicious activity. At the same time, we optimized the TRC to avoid cases of false negatives and undetected malicious activity.

TRC is the latest in a series of cybersecurity technologies that Intel has added to its CPUs. The company also offers SGX, a CPU feature that allows hackers to store sensitive data in an isolated section of the processor that they cannot access.Intel chips detection A cyberattack targeting the installed firmware.

Image: Intel

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