Intel bets big on security-as-a-service for confidential computing | #cloudsecurity

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Intel revealed a string of security advancements at its inaugural Intel Vision event, including Project Amber — a security-as-a-service initiative for confidential computing — as well as increased collaboration for secure and responsible developments in AI, and a phased approach to quantum-safe cryptography.

Project Amber is aimed at providing organisations with remote verification of security in cloud, edge, and on-premises environments.

“As organisations continue to capitalise on the value of the cloud, security has never been more top of mind,” said Greg Lavender, CTO and general manager of the Software and Advanced Technology Group at Intel. 

“With the introduction of Project Amber, Intel is taking confidential computing to the next level in our commitment to a zero-trust approach to attestation and the verification of computing assets at the network, edge, and in the cloud.”

What is confidential computing?

Intel defines confidential computing as a process of isolating the sensitive data payloads with hardware-based memory protections. Hardware-based TEEs (trusted execution environments) are used to help secure data in use. Intel uses its SGX (Software Guard Extensions) available on the Intel Xeon Scalable platform to deploy  confidential computing technology.

“Confidential computing is an emerging industry initiative focused on helping enterprises better secure their applications and sensitive data while currently in use and during processing,” says Gary McAlum, senior analyst at Tag Cyber. 

“To secure enterprise data, confidential computing runs it within secure enclaves that isolate data and code to prevent unauthorised access, even when the infrastructure itself is compromised.”

It’s important to note, McAlum adds, that while confidential computing is a powerful security concept, it’s not a silver bullet. With the growing data security challenges and proliferating privacy regulations, it is imperative organisations take a holistic approach to cyber security.

Best practices that McAlum recommends include regular patching, implementing strong authentication controls, continuous monitoring, employee awareness and training, and data back-up and recovery procedures.

How Intel’s Project Amber provides cloud security

Amber provides the foundational basis of trust in a confidential computing environment via a process called attestation. Attestation, Intel says, is a process that verifies that a cloud provider offers the security that customers need to protect their data and intellectual property as they move sensitive workloads to the cloud.

Intel is releasing Project Amber as a multi-cloud, multi-TEE service for third-party attestation. Also dubbed as “cloud-agnostic,” Amber is designed to support confidential computing workloads in the public cloud, within private/hybrid clouds, and at the edge.

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