While working remotely has been a welcome change for many employees, it presents challenges that keep many IT managers up at night. In a short timeframe, their remit for keeping devices and information secure, regardless of what’s considered “the office,” has become significantly more complicated.
Even before the pandemic, threats ranging from cybercrime to physical hacks were a known enterprise issue, but the likelihood of an attack is growing. In June 2022, an RSM study conducted for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that 72% of 400+ senior executives at middle-market companies think that unauthorized users will attempt to access their data this year, while 22% said they’ve already experienced a breach.
The findings dovetail with last year’s report from Tenable, which, based on research from Forrester Consulting, revealed that 80% of security and business leaders said their organizations are more exposed to risk as a result of remote work. The same amount believes moving business-critical functions to the cloud leaves them susceptible, too.
Top of the charts: security ranks highs in enterprise decisions
A tech veteran, Senior Product Marketing Manager Chuck Schalm has spent more than 30 years in technology and the last 11 at AMD, and in that time has noticed the shift in the focus of IT decision-makers and executives when it comes to security first-hand. Schalm says the conversation used to be all about price and performance, but now security is playing a much more significant role in the purchase process.
“We’re looking at what other facets IT professionals or corporate customers look for when they’re evaluating a solution, and security is up there,” Schalm recently told us.
In 2022, companies large and small need to reconcile the freedom of employees working remotely on laptops with the risk of data being squarely outside the organization’s walls. According to that same RSM study, 23% of the executives reported a ransomware attack, while roughly 50% think enhanced security of existing workforce solutions is a key to reducing the fallout that comes with breaches.
And at its core, that is what AMD is addressing with the technology inside the Ryzen PRO processors. “AMD has gone all-in on security for the new chips, as more companies migrate their business processes online,” Schalm attests.
Belts and suspenders: the best security is multilayered
The list of challenges IT pros faced in the last few years—as work moves seamlessly from an employee’s apartment to a nearby coffee shop to a transatlantic flight—includes everything from endpoint data protection to security updates to physical attacks.
AMD Ryzen™ PRO processors provide cutting-edge security through features at the hardware, OS, and system phase, meaning it’s designed to handle multi-pronged attacks. Roughly five years in development, the Ryzen PRO processors help protect sensitive data from attacks at every turn:
- Starting at the silicon level, the security processor provides protection to the chip and validates code before execution, preserving the device and data from malicious software and applications. In essence, the security processor is the first part of the chip to receive power and checks itself to ensure it hasn’t been compromised.
- Once confirmed, the secure processor allows for the flow of information and power to the rest of the machine and moves through the boot process.
- Then at the firmware level, Microsoft’s secured-core PC technology adds in security software. Ryzen is the first business class x 86 processor to integrate Microsoft’s Pluton to provide chip-to-cloud security in Windows 11 PCs.¹
“Working closely with academics, researchers, and end users, security is a priority consideration from the moment our products are conceived,” as Schalm summarizes.
Past meets present: next-gen security can evade old-school hacks
While sophisticated attacks are top of mind for any IT stakeholder, there are cruder ways to access private company information. Cold boot attacks—a method of increasing a computer’s vulnerability by freezing the memory with a can of dust spray—have been around for more than a decade as a relatively easy way to gain access to sensitive files.
All a bad actor needs is to swipe an employee’s machine while it’s in sleep mode—which isn’t as rare of an occurrence as you might think. Now in its 17th year, the Cost of Data Breach Report for 2022, discovered that a laptop is stolen every 53 seconds, resulting in three times as many data breaches today than in 2018.
Separate from theft, modern users want to work with their laptops the way they operate their phones, meaning they’re rarely powered down and therefore left vulnerable. Be it theft or just bad habits, AMD Memory Guard covers both.
“For all businesses, security should not be an afterthought,” confirms Schalm. “It should be built in from the beginning.”
With AMD Memory Guard², the computer is coded with an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encrypting making it more difficult to extract secrets during a physical attack. When used in combination with other technologies, like drive encryption, Trusted Platform Module (TPM), and system authentication, companies can protect data while also allowing employees to be more productive by not having to shut down their PC after every use.
Today’s employees can’t have the luxury of a security-obsessed IT professional working over their shoulders, so practicing good cyber hygiene is even more important. ITDMs should be stressing, whether back at HQ, on the road, or at home, that employees use strong passwords, multi-factor identification, a secure network, updated application and virus software, and awareness of attacks like phishing.
IT professionals can do their part by ensuring systems are promptly updated with the latest firmware, and taking a periodic headcount to understand which computers qualify to be replaced, which employees are using the machines, and prioritizing upgrading machines that are in less-secure environments, running sensitive applications, or handling confidential data.
As the scope of data security expands, IT managers are likely feeling stretched thin, which is why AMD is committed to being a trusted partner.
The vision is for Ryzen PRO to leverage new technologies such as environmental, predictive, and process isolation to help businesses identify, locate, quarantine, and remediate threats more efficiently.
Working on multiple fronts, AMD is innovating on new security features for future products, too. Analyzing possible attacks, new protections are being devised to address the security concerns customers and IT partners will face.
AMD Ryzen™ PRO processors mean business. Help guard your sensitive data now.
This post is a sponsored collaboration between AMD and G/O Media Studios.
¹Microsoft Pluton is a technology owned by Microsoft and licensed to AMD. Microsoft Pluton is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Learn more here. Microsoft Pluton security processor requires OEM enablement. Check with the OEM before purchase. AMD has not verified the third-party claim. GD-202.
²Full system memory encryption with AMD Memory Guard is included in AMD Ryzen PRO, AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO, and AMD Athlon PRO processors. Requires OEM enablement. Check with the system manufacturer prior to purchase. GD-206.