Intel's McAfee brings biometric authentication to cloud storage
Security

Intel's McAfee brings biometric authentication to cloud storage

Intel is introducing new ideas to secure the public cloud, offering a service in which online files can be accessed after users are verified by an authentication scheme including face and voice recognition.

McAfee, a unit of Intel, is adding a product called LiveSafe that will offer 1GB of online storage that can be accessed through biometric authentication. LiveSafe has a Web-based management dashboard, and users can be authenticated through face recognition, voice or by punching in a PIN. LiveSafe also includes antivirus and other security features.

McAfee likens the service to an online vault in the cloud where sensitive documents can be stored. The service can be accessed through tablets, smartphones and PCs, and the authentication schemes vary depending on the device.

Multifactor authentication is critical for files stored in the cloud, McAfee executives said.

The biometric authentication features are tied to antitheft and identity-protection features in laptops with Intel chips, which adds additional layers of security, said Gary Davis, vice president of global consumer business at McAfee.

"A big part of this announcement is collaborating with Intel," Davis said.

A PC needs to have a webcam and an Intel processor to use voice and face recognition. Not all forms of biometric authentication will work on Macs, mobile devices and PCs using Advanced Micro Devices' x86 processors. In cases where biometric authentication functions are not available, users can access files after punching in the correct PIN. LiveSafe will also work with Android and Apple's iOS operating systems.

The software is priced at US$19.99 for a 12-month subscription on new PCs, after which users have to pay $79.99 per year. For existing PC users, a 12-month subscription costs $79.99.

The secure files are stored in McAfee's data centers, Davis said.

"We needed to make sure we put [files] in the absolute securest location," Davis said.

McAfee software like Total Protection has a feature in which files can be stored in secure locations on local storage. LiveSafe will not synchronize with files stored in secure file vaults created on local storage.

Intel completed the $7.68 billion acquisition of McAfee in early 2011, after which it took steps to bring some of the security company's assets to the chip level. One combined offering is DeepSafe, in which a security layer on Intel's chips allows McAfee's malware protection software to identify and block threats such as rootkits, or analyze stealth behavior of potential malware.

Intel has also said it would use McAfee's assets to integrate security features at the chip level to differentiate its products from the competition. Some of the features are expected to be embedded in Atom chips, which will then help secure smartphones and tablets.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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Comments

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Richard Keeves on April 03 2012

Peter, interesting article and mostly spot on (imho). The one thing I question is your concluding comment that social media is not living up to its hype but that it is going to. Let's get clear... Social media is for social people. It is about social people and has content from and for social people. It connect people socially. (so far so good, right?) BUT this does not necessarily mean it is there for business. Is there business hype around using social media? Yes. Will social media live up to this hype. Perhaps not, and I say probably not. Facebook is a tool for business, but as you rightly say, it is more a tool for attracting and building your community so you can develop more meaningful relationships with the community - and generally NOT within Facebook. Simply Liking a brand is way different to being an active part of a valuable and vibrant community. My prediction is that Facebook's desire to dominate the online world will be its undoing. It's monopolistic desire to rule - according to its rules - will bring on its downfall. Sooner or later. Business is waking up to understanding where social media fits in and where it does not. Except for your conclusion, your post sums it up nicely. imho. :) Social media is already changing the world. SM has a role in business as another form & channel for communications. Business needs to realistically embrace its strengths opportunities, and understand its weaknesses and risks. More importantly, business owners need to see it for what it is - which is neither a panacea for broken promises, a silver sales bullet or a passing techno-fad. Cheers Richard Keeves, Australia

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Peter Smith on April 03 2012

Richard, thank-you for commenting, and it's much appreciated when one's views reflect those of the readers! You're right in terms of my comment about SM living up to its hype. In terms of social use it has been the hype that has driven it, but now that commercial interests are raising their head perhaps I should have written "...is not living up to its hype as a marketing medium." It is one of many potential marketing channels, and we're seeing some great examples of how to use it well. One of my favourites is Kuoni, an upscale European travel company. They are fostering a strong community with people sharing their experiences and recommendations, all of which adds credibility to the brand. Equally I know one car manufacturer that has lost at least 40 new car sales following its consistent taking down of unhappy comment, leading to the customer blogging about his bad experiences and plastering a link over his repeated reposts. So it cuts both ways, the key is to work out how it might fall before speaking up...

no-images

Richard Keeves on April 03 2012

Peter, interesting article and mostly spot on (imho). The one thing I question is your concluding comment that social media is not living up to its hype but that it is going to. Let's get clear... Social media is for social people. It is about social people and has content from and for social people. It connect people socially. (so far so good, right?) BUT this does not necessarily mean it is there for business. Is there business hype around using social media? Yes. Will social media live up to this hype. Perhaps not, and I say probably not. Facebook is a tool for business, but as you rightly say, it is more a tool for attracting and building your community so you can develop more meaningful relationships with the community - and generally NOT within Facebook. Simply Liking a brand is way different to being an active part of a valuable and vibrant community. My prediction is that Facebook's desire to dominate the online world will be its undoing. It's monopolistic desire to rule - according to its rules - will bring on its downfall. Sooner or later. Business is waking up to understanding where social media fits in and where it does not. Except for your conclusion, your post sums it up nicely. imho. :) Social media is already changing the world. SM has a role in business as another form & channel for communications. Business needs to realistically embrace its strengths opportunities, and understand its weaknesses and risks. More importantly, business owners need to see it for what it is - which is neither a panacea for broken promises, a silver sales bullet or a passing techno-fad. Cheers Richard Keeves, Australia

no-images

Peter Smith on April 03 2012

Richard, thank-you for commenting, and it's much appreciated when one's views reflect those of the readers! You're right in terms of my comment about SM living up to its hype. In terms of social use it has been the hype that has driven it, but now that commercial interests are raising their head perhaps I should have written "...is not living up to its hype as a marketing medium." It is one of many potential marketing channels, and we're seeing some great examples of how to use it well. One of my favourites is Kuoni, an upscale European travel company. They are fostering a strong community with people sharing their experiences and recommendations, all of which adds credibility to the brand. Equally I know one car manufacturer that has lost at least 40 new car sales following its consistent taking down of unhappy comment, leading to the customer blogging about his bad experiences and plastering a link over his repeated reposts. So it cuts both ways, the key is to work out how it might fall before speaking up...

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