Intel Unveils vPro Security Enhancements for 12th Gen Core Processors

Intel on Thursday presented the vPro platform security enhancements introduced with the new 12th Gen Core processors, codenamed Alder Lake.

The Intel vPro platform is designed to provide enhanced performance, security, manageability and stability. The vPro security technologies can provide protection to hardware, firmware, the operating system and applications.

vPro for Intel 12th Gen Core processorsAccording to Intel, in the new vPro delivered with 12th Gen processors, the Hardware Shield feature, which provides protections against firmware-level attacks, is designed to further reduce the attack surface.

In addition, the Control Flow Enforcement Technology (CET) — introduced with 11th Gen Core mobile processors to prevent malicious code injections into applications executing in memory — is now available for desktop processors as well.

On the latest Intel processors, the Threat Detection Technology (TDT) has been upgraded with anomalous behavior detection.

TDT is designed to provide hardware-based ransomware detection capabilities. The new detector targets living-off-the-land and supply chain attacks by using artificial intelligence to profile good app behavior, and it alerts endpoint security software when anomalies are identified.

On Intel vPro Enterprise for Windows and Chrome, users will benefit from protection against physical attacks courtesy of Total Memory Encryption Multi-Key (TME-MK), which encrypts DRAM. On Chrome devices, Intel is also providing a Key Locker feature, which is designed to protect keys used by AES-NI encryption.

The Register reported this week that the new processors still don’t support Microsoft’s Pluton security processor. Microsoft said in 2020 that the new security chip for Windows PCs would be delivered through partnerships with Intel, AMD and Qualcomm. Some upcoming Lenovo ThinkPads with AMD processors will reportedly include Pluton, but it will be disabled by default.

Related: Intel Improves Hardware Shield in New 10th Gen Core vPro Processors

Related: Intel Packs Ransomware Detection Directly Into vPro Platform

Related: New Security Tech in Intel CPUs Protects Systems Against Malware Attacks

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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