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CES 2014: Intel plans to "harden" Android

Intel this week said it is developing security extensions for Intel-based mobile devices running Android for both consumers and enterprise customers.

"Mobile devices running with Intel Device Protection Technology will offer users new security capabilities to help pro-actively block and secure the devices from malware delivered through malicious applications and websites," Intel spokesperson Suzy Greenberg told ITProPortal Wednesday.

The Android-specific device security offering was announced during Intel CEO Brian Krzanich's keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Monday. The chip giant said it will be rolling out products featuring a "hardened" Android later this year.

"We expect to bring these enhanced security capabilities to market in the first half of 2014, starting with a new version of McAfee Mobile Security that unlocks benefits for consumers. Look for additional information from us at MWC and RSA in February 2014," Greenberg said.

Intel also said this week at CES 2014 that it is rebranding its McAfee products as Intel Security going forward, so it's likely that the next-gen McAfee Mobile Security solution will have a different name when it is released.

Intel is also developing an enterprise-flavoured version of Android that it sees as coping with the reality of the BYOD (bring your own device) movement while not sacrificing the ability of IT departments to manage and secure devices on an organisational network.

"Managed devices in the enterprise and BYOD devices will benefit from hardware and software-enhanced security capabilities that provide IT increased levels of control and effectively separate personal and corporate applications and data. This combination of features helps protect against data leakage while safeguarding personal content on the device," Greenberg said.

Intel announced that it would support Android back in 2010. The company's latest Core and Atom designs can run Android, while more x86-based chips coming this year from Intel will support a 64-bit version of Google's mobile operating system, according to the company.

The chip giant has also been pitching the ability of its latest processor designs to run Windows and Android natively on a single chip powering a tablet, 2-in-1 device, or PC. Called "Dual OS," the technology is being used by Asus in the computer maker's new Transformer Book Duet (TD300), which runs Windows 8.1 and Android 4.2.2 "Jelly Bean."

For Dual OS and Android-only devices with Intel chips to have any appeal to the enterprise, though, Google's mobile operating system will have to feature more robust security and device management capabilities, according to analyst Patrick Moorhead.

Moorhead, principal analyst for Moor Insights & Strategy, said Intel's plan to "harden" Android could go a long way towards differentiating Intel-powered Android devices from the typical consumer products running the OS now on the market.

The move comes just after Intel announced that it would rebrand its security product, Mcafee, as Intel Security.