Intel shows off encrypted video conferencing for secret meetings

Intel showed in a demo today that it can create a secure encrypted video conference that will allow workers to discuss company secrets without fear that someone might be eavesdropping.

The web-based video conference was shown live on stage at the Intel Developer Forum during the keynote speech of Paul Otellini. The event is for Intel’s developers, and it is being held this week in San Francisco. Doing video conferences is fairly easy now on computers, but doing it with a high level of encryption is more difficult.

Otellini said improved security such as that demonstrated in the video conference is one of the reasons Intel agreed to buy antivirus software vendor McAfee for $7.6 billion a few weeks ago. Intel and McAfee are working to build more protection for users into the silicon of Intel’s chips.

Otellini mentioned that it is becoming common in security circles to move protection from the basis of known bad threats to known good sites. If you can verify that a site is approved and complies with security standards, it is easier to give that site a green light for users than it is to keep track of all of the constantly evolving threats. That strategy will help prevent “zero day” attacks, or those that happen for the first time against previously unknown bugs in systems.

Otellini’s demo was aimed at showing the evolving capabilities of the PC. He said Intel plans to make chips for the whole continuum of personal computing, from smartphones to smart TVs to PCs and tablets. Intel’s goal is to create devices with seamless connectivity, so you can look at your Facebook page on any display you want. He said the three pillars of computing include energy-efficient performance, Internet connectivity and security. The encrypted video conference demonstrated the latter.

During the video conference, Intel representatives also said that WiDi, or Intel Wireless Display, will now work on tablet computers as well as laptops. Introduced in January and shipping in just a few laptop models now, WiDi will be expanded to target broader audiences soon. It basically lets you wirelessly display your laptop’s screen on a big TV.

As for the demo of the encrypted video conference, Intel used video conference software from Vidyo for a three-way video chat. The video conference used 256-bit encryption on a live video stream — which is technically tough to do. It used a next-generation Intel Xeon processor platform, dubbed Romley, to achieve a 10-fold improvement in encryption and decryption performance. The Romley platform has special instructions built into the hardware for better performance.

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