Intel’s Tiger Lake processors to stop some malware types in their tracks Intel’s Tiger Lake processors to stop some malware types in their tracks
Protection at the hardware level is more effective than leaving it to software to catch. Intel’s Tiger Lake processors to stop some malware types in their tracks

Protecting PCs from cyberattack is a complex task. But the task gets a little easier when protections are built into the very hardware those PCs run on.

That’s exactly what Intel is doing with its next generation of mobile processors, code-named Tiger Lake. The company is building capabilities into these chips that stop a specific type of malware at the hardware level.

Control-Flow Enforcement Technology, or CET, is the malware-prevention feature Intel is building into Tiger Lake. It protects against the misuse of legitimate code and the exploitation of memory safety vulnerabilities through control-flow hijacks.

As this is a popular attack vector for many malware samples, prevention at the hardware level could dramatically cut down on the number of attacks that use it.

Hardware-enforced Stack Protection

“As an opt-in feature in Windows 10, Microsoft has worked with Intel to offer hardware-enforced stack protection that builds on the extensive exploit protection built into Windows 10, to enforce code integrity as well as terminate any malicious code,” Vice President of Intel’s Client Computing Group Tom Garrison said in a press release.

In the same release, David Weston, director of Enterprise and OS Security at Microsoft, added that “As more proactive protections are built into the Windows OS, attackers are shifting their efforts to exploit memory safety vulnerabilities by hijacking the integrity of the control flow.”

Stop them in their tracks

If you’ve ever heard the terms “memory overflow” and “software overflow” in a malware context, these are the attack vectors that Intel’s CET addresses. Until now, these attacks have only been detected at the software level, which can be too late to do anything about them. By catching them before they even make a software call, they can be stopped in their tracks entirely.

Notebooks with Intel’s 10nm+++ Tiger Lake chips are expected to arrive on store shelves overseas around mid-year 2020, some of which will be Project Athena-certified. They should also arrive in South Africa soon thereafter.

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