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Intel's Sandy Bridge Processor Has a Kill Switch

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the no-mr-chip-I-expect-you-to-die dept.

Intel 399

An anonymous reader writes "Intel's new Sandy Bridge processors have a new feature that the chip giant is calling Anti-Theft 3.0. The processor can be disabled even if the computer has no Internet connection or isn't even turned on, over a 3G network. With Intel anti-theft technology built into Sandy Bridge, David Allen, director of distribution sales at Intel North America, said that users have the option to set up their processor so that if their computer is lost or stolen, it can be shut down remotely."

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A global remote kill switch in our computers (5, Insightful)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | more than 3 years ago | (#34602862)

What could possibly go wrong.

Re:A global remote kill switch in our computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34602888)

Skynet is going to have a field day with this.

Re:A global remote kill switch in our computers (3, Insightful)

greatica (1586137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34602920)

Somebody forgets about this feature and puts a processor in an airplane or some other type of mission-critical machine.

Re:A global remote kill switch in our computers (3, Insightful)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 3 years ago | (#34602934)

I'm sure the virus writers are rubbing their hands with glee waiting to get their hands on one of these chips.

Re:A global remote kill switch in our computers (5, Interesting)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603044)

I'm sure the virus writers are rubbing their hands with glee waiting to get their hands on one of these chips.

Actually, Kill-switch based malware is much less valuable in reality than other types of hacks. If this were a server processor, I could see the value in an enhanced remote server-kill. Because these are basic home-use processors though, remote kill viruses probably won't get much farther than proof-of-concept.

Botnets are much more lucrative in the malware world - processor uptime is much more valuable than processor downtime.

Re:A global remote kill switch in our computers (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34603120)

Great for a Physical Denial of Service attack, though. Imagine very ATM going down at once and requiring physical service to repair?

Re:A global remote kill switch in our computers (4, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603154)

Actually, Kill-switch based malware is much less valuable in reality than other types of hacks.

Unless you are going after Iran or Wikileaks.

Re:A global remote kill switch in our computers (3, Insightful)

ceeam (39911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34602958)

> our computers

As an AMD fanboy - say for yourself.

Re:A global remote kill switch in our computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34603042)

As an ARM fanboy, with all my jobs running in the cloud - likewise to the OP. Oh, wait..

Re:A global remote kill switch in our computers (1)

Pharago (1197161) | more than 3 years ago | (#34602984)

What could possibly go wrong.

indeed, this might become the most sought after vulnerability, the holy grail of hacking, or even a new sport: cpu kill drive by

instead of making a cpu with a decent integrated gpu, intel is giving us the possibility of killing it without even having to open the computer case

Re:A global remote kill switch in our computers (5, Funny)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603062)

intel is giving us the possibility of killing [a PC] without even having to open the computer case

Sounds like Intel is trying to muscle in on Microsoft's turf.

Re:A global remote kill switch in our computers (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603010)

What could possibly go wrong.

Nothing ... because I'm sure that Intel can turn it back on remotely (for a price). Hmm, I wonder what they're charging to turn it off once it is reported stolen?

Re:A global remote kill switch in our computers (5, Insightful)

morari (1080535) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603046)

So what? The computer will be unusable (unless the thief wants to foot for a new CPU and motherboard) but the hard drive will still be there, full of your data! A few screws later and the drive will be hooked up to another computer, with all your info ready for the picking!

Re:A global remote kill switch in our computers (1)

tqk (413719) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603060)

What could possibly go wrong.

Indeed, and what a foolish way of doing it! If it's connected via 3G, report its GPS location quietly, FFS!

Re:A global remote kill switch in our computers (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603090)

This was possible for a long time with phones yet it wasn't phone tracking which for the most part killed phone theft but remote kill switches.
I don't like the implications but it could cut down on theft a lot.

Re:A global remote kill switch in our computers (5, Interesting)

Snowblindeye (1085701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603110)

I don't know what Intel is putting into those chips, but I am highly doubtful it is the way the article states it.

Chip real estate is expensive. So Intel is going to put a complete 3G module on the CPU and use it only for this feature? And to top it off, it has some kinda of separate battery, cause you know, it works when the chip is off? Nonsense.

This is probably some feature that gets build into the AMT support of some chipsets, maybe on Laptops that have a 3G connection already.But the way they are describing this? I call BS on that.

Re:A global remote kill switch in our computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34603246)

Is this really for antitheft, or will we one day have our computers disabled for angering our RIAA overlords? XD

Re:A global remote kill switch in our computers (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603292)

Yeah, this story smells bogus to me. That is, the rational for the existence of the feature. If my laptop is stolen, how the hell is disabling it remotely going to help me? How about a feature that automatically blasts out a beacon over 3G so the cops can go find the guy and get my machine back, instead?

something missing (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34602876)

is there an on switch?

On-disk data (4, Interesting)

grantek (979387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34602880)

Cue rampant predictions of abuse, but I wonder if it can be combined with an on-chip encryption key to make full-disk encryption more effective (if complete control is given to the user)

Re:On-disk data (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603084)

Yes. Part of the kill command will be to encrypt the HD with a key sent with the kill command.

For a small fee, you can gain access to this key.

Re:On-disk data (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34603258)

Intel had this functionality, as part of AT-D. Here's the Intel Technology Journal article (from 2008) describing their "DAR" (Data at Rest) protection technologies, which are fundamentally whole disk encryption with hardware protected keying:


I recently went to find a chipset which implemented it, but a colleague in Intel said that some of their major ISV's - and I'm going to guess here that their recent acquisition was the primary complainant - protested loudly to Intel. So my contact said that they quietly dropped it.

The current technologies which sit under the AT-D branding are here:


Like most things Intel, the grand claims are never matched by the actual detail of their implementation.

Laputan Machine (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34602882)



It's not paranoia! (5, Insightful)

breakzoidbeg (1260428) | more than 3 years ago | (#34602890)

Knowing right out of the gate that some one else COULD have access to this kill feature is unnerving at best.

Catering to security Consultants. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34603190)

Because if your $1k computer is stolen, then it would be useful to wait a year for a Security officer to find it on his "beat list" as stolen property that is worth less to maintane, so he remotely disables the CPU so it isn't used by terrorists/tourists.

Because vwe know it's assuring the value of property, not guarunteeing some 'tard with Hollywood widgets a $250/hr job payed through the reasonable Billing departmeent of Legislated courts of limited liability that handle your payments vfor child support and taxes.

wut (2)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34602900)

Why does this have to be IN the processor? Intel needs to calm down with the paranoid shit and just make processors.

Re:wut (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34603056)

Because the processor can't be desoldered and replaced in 15 minutes with a reflow kit, before you get a chance to send the kill code. If you're gonna have it at all, it's most effective in the most essential and hardest to mess with components, and the CPU's it.

Of course, all that still doesn't matter, since you need a signal to blow it; it's trivial to pop the 3G antenna, then recover the device's data at your leisure.

And without owner's consent? (1)

piotru (124109) | more than 3 years ago | (#34602902)

Of course, Intel guarantees there is only one kill switch and it can only be used with the owner's consent ;-)

Re:And without owner's consent? (3, Insightful)

Lord Dreamshaper (696630) | more than 3 years ago | (#34602918)

sure, unless they have a somewhat sketchy cease & desist from the RIAA/MPAA...or if they simply don't want to piss off the feds (wikileaks anyone?). I'm sure they'll apologize later if they were wrong...as long as you can afford the lawyers to prove you were wrong...

I know what I'm getting for christmas... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34602904)

An AMD proccesor.

Re:I know what I'm getting for christmas... (2)

ceeam (39911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34602970)

Too early. Both AMD and Intel are at the end of their cycles this Christmas. Which is sad, of course, as people would be buying soon-to-be-obsolete computers without realizing that.

Re:I know what I'm getting for christmas... (1, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603004)

All computers are obsolete.

Re:I know what I'm getting for christmas... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34603198)

Not only obsolete, but also useless -- they can only give you answers.

All your data are belonging to thief! (3, Insightful)

edfardos (863920) | more than 3 years ago | (#34602910)

Killing the cpu just means they have to transfer the drive to a new laptop in order to steal all your information? That's one whole extra step! That's innovation. --edfardos

Re:All your data are belonging to thief! (3, Insightful)

phozz bare (720522) | more than 3 years ago | (#34602940)

How many laptop thieves give a crap about the information in the machine? In 99% of the cases all they want is to sell it, as quickly as possible.

why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34602912)

um. maybe I'm being thick... but what's the point? Just to make it worthless and thereby make it less worth stealing?

why not just have a normal processor and a sticker that says "super dooper anti theft kill switch". After all it works for cars, no-one ever steals them anymore!

Tracking? Remote data access? (4, Informative)

LWolenczak (10527) | more than 3 years ago | (#34602922)

Anyone else getting the vibe that since this thing will have a 3g connection on the backend, that it can be misused by others(governments) to track and remotely control/access your device. Geeeeeeeeee. This does not sound like a good idea... Well unless your the TSA.

Re:Tracking? Remote data access? (1, Informative)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603134)

pretty much every phone has similar systems.
phones can be turned on remotely, have components turned on and even place a call at the behest of whoever has the right keys.

unless you physically take out the battery your phone could be transmitting everything you say already.
http://news.cnet.com/2100-1029_3-6140191.html [cnet.com]

of course it will be misused eventually but such tech isn't new, it's been around for years.

May go back to AMD... (5, Insightful)

Guysdrinkingbeer (207045) | more than 3 years ago | (#34602924)

I was looking forward to this CPU. Now, I am really going to research this. This may flip me back to AMD. I didn't like when Intel did the tracking on the PIII and the sound of this makes me just as uncomfortable.

Re:May go back to AMD... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34603100)

You do realise that tracking feature is still in all current gen Pentium CPUs right?

Or... (1)

dosius (230542) | more than 3 years ago | (#34602930)

...it could be used to remotely disable the computer on a government's whim, or when Inhell decides it's time to upgrade?


Great for governments (5, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34602938)

Want to shut down the opposition's operations? Just disable their computers.

Do. Not. Want.

Re:Great for governments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34603194)

By the way... I tagged this story "donotwant"

Please join me.

A better solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34602948)

Can't they just hook it up to a nice big capacitor so it discharges 50,000 volts on command? It might not help you recover the computer but it would give you a little satisfaction.

Viruses (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 3 years ago | (#34602950)

Viruses will be written to detect anti-virus code coming in and trip the kill switch as punishment for trying to remove the virus.

Re:Viruses (1)

imroy (755) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603034)

Or... a botnet could register the CPU code(s) with a database somewhere and disable the CPU(s) if that node hasn't been seen for a few days. Have a few cases gain public attention, soon the selfish and stupid hoards will be reluctant to get their misbehaving computer seen to by a repair person.

Re:Viruses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34603148)

Hordes, not hoards. Saw this yesterday as well. Please lern 2 spell in futcher. It's annoying.

Re:Viruses (1)

imroy (755) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603240)

Ah yes, sorry. It's not a word I commonly use and I picked the wrong homophone. I usually do better than most, if that's of any value.

Great idea despite the naysayers (1)

fahlenkp (1939942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34602954)

While I wouldn't say it isn't possible for someone to break in and kill your machine, it isn't likely. We have been using Absolute software's offering and have been able to do remote wipes on laptops for a long time now. Nobody has broken in and wiped out all the computers with this technology. That being said, do you really think IT who implements this doesn't have a backup? And that our legal departments wouldn't get fair compensation if said "gotcha" really occurs? I would rather have the ability to disable a phone or pc in any way possible when I need it to happen. For the comment above about just moving the hard drive to another machine.. Really? Who goes through the trouble of enabling this, and paying monthly for the service and just skips the whole drive encryption bit? My vote is go Intel.

Re:Great idea despite the naysayers (1)

Aryden (1872756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603026)

And my vote is: This is stupid. Hypothetically, If I want your data, HDD goes into an external case and read with one or another flavor of linux. If I want to sell it, I'll pull the battery out of the laptop immediately, no power = no 3g. On a PC, do I even have to say it? not plugged in, getting no power. However, if they require some form of external supply, i.e. adding a battery to the mobo, well then i'll just know to pull that fucker out asap then won't I.

Re:Great idea despite the naysayers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34603028)

I think a difference would be.. the Intel solution will be much more widespread than Absolute (never heard of it btw), therefore more of a target. There are lots of negative comments so far, but I'm wondering if you can't just turn it off in the BIOS. Pretty much a no-brainer IMO.

Re:Great idea despite the naysayers (1)

fahlenkp (1939942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603082)

Absolute=lojack the parent company. These guys are late to the big brother party. Lenovo, Dell, HP all come with the SMS activation with no power and gps tracking support in the BIOS. The icing on this cake is that when I report a machine stolen now, sms message goes out, activates gps, cops go after it, and the processor is disabled so if the battery does run out, the machine is useless. The comment 2 up-- You didn't read my comment. We encrypt our drives. While once in a while a crack comes out for this, it gets patched pretty quick. I'm not concerned. I just read a little more, you have to enable it in the BIOS, doesn't come by default. You can also have the full functionality restored.

Re:Great idea despite the naysayers (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603048)

I would rather have the ability to disable a phone or pc in any way possible when I need it to happen.

So would I. But I don't want somebody else necessarily to have that same bit of control. There's the rub, the devil in the details. How configurable will it be and who gets to configure it. Since everyone here at least has their tinfoil hat close by (perhaps covered by seasonally appropriate decorations) I don't think it's too far fetched to think that we're mostly worried about them.

Re:Great idea despite the naysayers (2)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603078)

I'm afraid I just don't agree.

The way I see it, ANY piece of hardware that has a built-in ability to receive some command that renders it completely non-functional is hardware with a DESIGN FLAW.

If it's in there someplace, you can be sure that eventually, the malware/spyware writers will devise some way to trigger it. (I can see the plan forming already. Software pops up and demands a random fee be paid online, or else it will kill your CPU.)

Most of us find the ability to remote kill a cellphone more acceptable, because those devices are relatively disposable. People often receive them at heavily discounted rates as part of a service contract for a year or two, and it's rare the user actually keeps the same unit after that contract is up for a renewal. Besides, if you quit paying for a monthly contract for a phone, you've got a barely useful device in your hands at that point, anyway. (The way contract phones are handled in the USA right now, they really could do just as well to lease the things to people.)

Re:Great idea despite the naysayers (1)

fahlenkp (1939942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603126)

So you don't have a machine with a built in SSH port? (or remote desktop?) What is really harder? Building a virus to modify a modern BIOS or execute RM -rf? The point of most malware is not to render the computer useless. It is to use the computer in a botnet or extract valuable information. Now where was that tinfoil hat? Maybe I am missing something obvious.

Re:Great idea despite the naysayers (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603270)

You are going to have a heart attack when you google Lighs Out Management (LOM)

Primer on how this works because you guys=confused (1)

fahlenkp (1939942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603224)

1. purchase license for remote recovery service. 2. enable service on laptop bios, encrypt drive, enable intel kill switch. 3. now I can see all computer's GPS history in a nifty web portal. It has pretty maps and charts, good manager bait. Now I can set fences based on country, state etc to start a wipe and shut down if it leaves that fenced area. 4. User reports stolen laptop, we report to security service. 5. Remote wipe sensitive directories, execute any custom commands. 6. Alert cops to pick it up, start a timer for kill switch based on battery life. 7. Cops don't pick it up, battery is low, disable machine completely with intel switch (only new part here). If you own a laptop, get in the bios right now and look for computrace activation. If it is a business class machine, it is already there and has been for years. If you don't like it, don't get an aircard. All of this technology is up and running for me and a lot of other corporations. If you don't like it, and you work for me, fine. Quit. If you are a home consumer, disable it. Every other service on your computer is equally vulnerable to unknown unwritten malware.

3G connection when it is off? (1)

igreaterthanu (1942456) | more than 3 years ago | (#34602994)

So how much of a drain does this put on the battery?

Battery life is one of the most crucial attributes of a laptop, I know what I wont be buying now.

Oh, they're not selling enough cpu's... (1)

tp_xyzzy (1575867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603002)

What a convinient way to make people buy new computers. When the previous one dies because of some random timer in intel headquarters, you just need to buy a new one.

It'll be their way of making us rent the machines, and not actually own them.

Loongson (1)

bleakgadfly (1730742) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603018)

Let's hope the chinese gets some more power behind it's Loongson-processor, and we would see some really interesting CISC vs. RISC stuff the next 5-10 years.

Would you buy a machine with this in ? (4, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603030)

This to me says it will push foreign governments to non-intel machines. Can't risk the US government getting control of something like this.
Or any other power for that matter. No government or military would really want this on their systems. They might think they want it to "stop theft" but the consequences of someone else getting control are way to much.

Leased computers (1)

0WaitState (231806) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603050)

This seems likely to support leased computers--miss a payment, your processor gets switched off.

Just like buy-here/pay-here car "dealers", with a remote vehicle disabler. ...and as others have said, DO NOT WANT.

It's working. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34603052)

It's working, it's killed my interest already!

HD != CPU (3, Informative)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603058)

What a pity all the important information is stored on the HD, not the CPU.

Re:HD != CPU (1)

LuxMaker (996734) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603252)

Yes but through the CPU given the proper commands it may be theoretically possible to access the HD over a 3G connection.

What? No conspiracy theories? (4, Insightful)

reemul (1554) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603064)

Wow. More than 30 comments already and no-one has brought up Microsoft killing the cpu if it thinks your copy of the OS is pirated. Must be a slow day. ;)

Re:What? No conspiracy theories? (4, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603142)

Yes, because only MS is evil enough to consider such a thing. Actually, it sounds like something more up Apple's alley. Regardless, that idea is absurd - any established company would be a stationary target for class action suites over something like this. They certainly aren't that stupid.

No, people should be far, far more concerned about viruses and malware. Especially considering how Anonymous and their ilk now think they have some sort of political agenda. The US government has done something Anonymous doesn't like? Let's brick every machine with a US IP address. Now that is something to be afraid of. Or those Chinese "patriotic hackers" that hacked their way into Google. Yeah, I'd be a bit concerned about that sort of thing.

What could possibly go wrong... (2)

FunPika (1551249) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603070)

...Until some hacker finds a security flaw in the system used to send the kill signals, and goes on a rampage disabling as many computers as they can (which fate will ensure will be the vast majority that have been sold with these processors at the least, and after thousands/millions of them have been sold and are in average users' desktops/laptops). Que a shitload of inconvenienced customers and tech support guys wanting to blow their brains out from all the calls they will be getting.

So what? (1)

cephus440 (828210) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603072)

They can stop the processor. It's the data that's in the HD that's important. It's kind of like saying that I'm going to make a vehicle anti-theft device. When you steal the car, the radio won't work.

So just buy one that can't be shut down. (2)

silvein (13434) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603074)

I don't work for Intel, so I don't know exactly how they do this. But I don't think this is all the processor (it won't work without a 3G radio for one, so at least some of this capability rests in the mainboard), and how much is the firmware.

My guess is when you boot the machine, the processor runs the BIOS/EFI, and when initializing the 3G radio it sees if there is a flag. If so, the system shuts down. If it does this before even looking for an OS or starting up the display, you'd never know it even tried to boot. Otherwise, it goes on its way.

Also I only see this being used on laptop systems (as they are the only systems likely to have a 3G radio). Adding a 3G radio to a desktop mainboard seems like a waste of money (but if you are the CIA, maybe it's worth it).

similar thing exists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34603076)

that's similar to the computrace stuff which also provides remote control capabilities in the bios,
the part with the 'kill switch' is probably only the tip of the eisberg - it would also be possible to modify/flash firmware, bios, etc so they then can modify the filesystem (each step can do a little bit more) -
the nice thing when you read patents is that you can get a lot of information: e.g. do the computrace patents mentioned remotely triggered modification to the microcode of the processor.
so, now we know were we are heading.

We're missing the real danger here! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34603080)

If Intel can include a remote-activated kill-switch, what's to prevent them from installing a remote-activated vulnerability switch? If your hardware can be compromised remotely it's the end of all security on that computer. You have no guarantee that your cryptographic keys are safe or that your every keystroke isn't being logged. Once they have your hardware under their control, you're doomed.

So at the very best.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34603098)

The thief gets away with a server and only has to replace the processor.. that's like giving them a car and having them replace the window they smashed to get into it.

The very worst has been posted a few times already.

Anti-theft... or anti-dissent? (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603104)

Next up: anyone, inside of government or not, who accesses or downloads anything from WikiLeaks will have their computer remotely fried. Who needs a warrant to search and seize when ya got 3G?

Intel new 3 step buisness plan (3, Interesting)

bug1 (96678) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603114)

1. Sell CPU.
2. Break it remotely.
3. Goto step 1.

Stock Market (1)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603124)

Looks like it's time to buy stock in AMD (actually, that time was May of 2008....)

I don't want to pay for "features" like this.

Who else can disable it? (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603128)

Serious question, who else will have access to the datacenter that issues these kill commands?

I think we all know, everything else aside, some hacker out there would LOVE to claim credit for disabling thousands of computers, costing intel a fortune in replacement fees.

Re:Who else can disable it? (1)

Mysteray (713473) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603284)

Right. So is Intel now in the business of deciding who gets shut off, like Amazon and DynDns? Or will they hand out kill switch codes to the top 250 computer manufacturers? Will they have a legal team on call 24/7 to ensure that kill switch requests meet even the minimum legal criteria? Will they argue on your behalf, or will they just go with whoever pays the most money? Will there be any prior notice and will you be able to appeal a kill switch order on your CPU? Will Intel do any better than YouTube at rejecting illegitimate requests submitted by parties that just want to screw with you?

Now that the US DHS has found out how much fun it is to play with the kill switch VeriSign gave them on .com websites, is there any reason to think that they won't order CPU shutdowns as well? Would they not have jumped at the chance to have killed Wikileaks' overseas PCs?

Why would any foreign government, non-US user, or multi-national corporation buy a system with Intel CPUs now?

How dumb can this company be?

Note to Intel: Ways to kill your product or reduce its performance are failings, not features.

It's just revenge! (1)

zanian (1621285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603146)

There is absolutely no use for this beyond revenge. It is not "anti-theft" as they call it. Your computer is still going to get stolen the only difference is that the thief doesn't get to use it after you disable the processor. Of course revenge is sweet, but this does not protect you from theft. Also, any files on the hard drive can still be pulled out. As we all suspect, a remote kill switch is a bad idea all around, but it would seem that even the intended use of this fails.

Misplaced technology (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603160)

What is needed is a remote means of wiping or at least making unusable data stored on hard drive or mass storage media. In the case of SDD, the technology should be obviously transferable. In the case of hard drives, perhaps an encryption key can be stored in a non-volatile RAM area and then erased on remote command to disable the data on the drive.

Disabling the processor will only hurt crack-heads. On the other hand, disabling or erasing data remotely will give businesses and government a chance to prevent data from getting into the wrong hands.

planned obsolescence (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34603172)

Now we'll know when it's time to upgrade.

How can they even pretend this is a positive? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603174)

There's no security benefit to the consumer, and the types of customers who'd really be interested in security features are business buyers - meaning the purchaser is going to be at least a marginally-IT-aware person who'll grok this (since business purchases aren't generally handled by the end user).

Well, the article sucks... (5, Informative)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603184)

since it doesn't explain how this works [intel.com], or what's it's really all about.

It doesn't permanently disable the processor, you can revive it if you know the password. To do a kill over 3G, you send an encrypted SMS, and the laptop obviously needs 3G capability and the OS needs to be running.

Chapter 1 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34603202)

September 16, 1991. Today it finally began! After all these years of talking and nothing but talking we have finally taken our first action. We are at war with the System, and it is no longer a war of words.

I cannot sleep, so I will try writing down some of the thoughts which are flying through my head.

It is not safe to talk here. The walls are quite thin, and the neighbors might wonder at a latenight conference. Besides, George and Katherine are already asleep. Only Henry and I are still awake, and he’s just staring at the ceiling.

I am really uptight. l am so jittery I can barely sit still. And I’m exhausted. I’ve been up since 5:30 this morning, when George phoned to warn that the arrests had begun, and it’s after midnight now. I’ve been keyed up and on the move all day.

But at the same time I’m exhilarated. We have finally acted! How long we will be able to continue defying the System, no one knows. Maybe it will all end tomorrow, but we must not think about that. Now that we have begun, we must continue with the plan we have been developing so carefully ever since the Gun Raids two years ago.

What a blow that was to us! And how it shamed us! All that brave talk by patriots, "The government will never take my guns away," and then nothing but meek submission when it happened.

On the other hand, maybe we should be heartened by the fact that there were still so many of us who had guns then, nearly 18 months after the Cohen Act had outlawed all private ownership of firearms in the United States. It was only because so many of us defied the law and hid our weapons instead of turning them in that the government wasn’t able to act more harshly against us after the Gun Raids.

I’ll never forget that terrible day: November 9, 1989. They knocked on my door at five in the morning. I was completely unsuspecting as I got up to see who it was.

Read more... [avrtech.com]

Circumvention procedure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34603206)

Place stolen laptops in lead foil lined bag. Abscond with bag to faraday cage. Disable in an as yet unknown way.

Tracking shutting down (1)

pfraser (651313) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603214)

So, you can remotely disable a system that has been stolen. This will mean criminals of opportunity will just throw the device away (and you'll never get it back) or criminals with intent to steal your data will just yank the drive.

Better solution? Discreet tracking. Keep an eye on the system and track where it goes so you can recover it when you're ready.

As for all the controversy around this, how is it any different to what Apple do with its beloved iPhone?

no thanks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34603226)

I think I'll pass on that one intel.

Why are people believing this? (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603230)

There was another article today about a "honeypot new release" too see how foolishly the news media would react to a story linking cell towers to fertility. Now there is a idiotic story about CPU that can be shut down by a G3 cell network even though it isn't connected to the Internet. Why would supposedly technical people believe that a CPU could be made to self destruct even though it has no cell phone, let alone believe that Intel would do it. How do you think that magic signal is going to get inside a cpu? Grow up kids, it's a bogus story.

And I shouldn't even have to mention that Intel has shown no inclination to do this. They could indeed work with a few major players to disable stolen computers when they are connected to the Internet. But they don't. They could very easily maintain a list of stolen CPU serial numbers, both individual's stolen machines as well as bulk batches of processor chips stolen before manufacturer, but they don't. They could maintain a list that indicated the intended marked speed of chips by serial number to prevent remarking fraud, but they don't. Yet you are ready to believe that they can somehow receive a G3 cellular signal inside a cpu without a phone attached, and that they would do this? Not only can't they do this, they wouldn't do it if they could. They have no intention to hand over all of their business to AMD the day a hacker figures out how to kill all, which is certainly what would happen.

AMD now hiring 3G cellular hackers (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 3 years ago | (#34603256)

In other news, AMD is now hiring thousands of hackers with 3G cellular experience. For what purpose, nobody knows.

The real intended use case (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34603264)

We like to think that it's designed for this scenario:

1. You have a laptop with important and valuable secrets
2. It's stolen by corporate or government agents
3. They extract your hard drive and take your important and valuable secrets
4. ??? and profit, I suppose

In fact, here's what is more likely to happen.

1. You have a laptop with unimportant and banal secrets
2. It's stolen by a drug addict, who doesn't even power it on
3. It's pawned off to the guy on the street corner, who may check if it boots
4. It's on-sold to a "professional" fence, at a markup
5. It ends up on eBay, at a markup

This anti-theft technology is meant to address steps 4 and 5 of the above. (Whether it will be effective is another thing.)

Tin Foil Hat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34603290)

So now my computer has to wear a tin foil hat to remain safe from evildoers?

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