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‘You Cannot Break That’ HPE Says Of The iLO 5 Chip In Gen 10 Servers

“In less than 24 hours you can not only identify the event hack, but you can absolutely be back up and running to how you were before the hack occurred,” said HPE’s Alle Whipple

Allen Whipple, distributor business development channel consultant at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, had a simple question for a room full of MSPs.

“Are your customers truly protected?” he asked. “I see all of your heads shaking no. A majority of them are not, right?”

Whipple said HPE’s claim that its Proliant servers are “the world’s most secure industry standard server,” is not marketing fluff.

“We threw that tagline around all over the place. We mean it,” he said, speaking at a breakout session sponsored by D&H Distributing at XChange 2020. “When we first designed this server, we took it out to a third party and said ‘Hack this computer. Tear it apart and tell us what you know.’ They’re the ones that came back and said, ‘Based on our research you have the world’s most secure industry-standard server. Based on what we’re seeing, you are two generations ahead of the competition.’”

He said for the Gen10 model, HPE stopped using third-party chip makers, choosing instead to make its iLO 5 chip itself, and infuse them with security at the point of manufacture.

“We took those iLO 5 chips, we brought them in house and we made them layer upon layer out of silicon,” he said. “We took our HPE firmware and literally embedded it in that silicon. It’s like surrounding it with concrete. What does that mean? It’s beautiful. It’s like a digital handshake. You cannot break that.”

Whipple said that while firmware outside of the chip can still be hacked and ransomed, the iLO 5 chip will stay secure.

“In the slim chance your Gen10 server is hacked, we are going to provide you with a way to recover your server in a matter of clicks or minutes, instead of days or weeks,” he said, speaking specifically about the iLO 5 Advanced chip. “You can set the server to check itself once every 24 hours. So once every 24 hours it is going to go and check all the firmware settings and make sure they are in an authentic state. Now if they’re not in an authentic state, it’s going to give you three options.”

He said first, it will allow the user to restore to the last known good state within the previous 24 hours since it last checked.

“That is critical,” Whipple said. “In less than 24 hours you not only can identify the event hack, but you can absolutely be back up and running to how you were before the hack occurred.”

He said the second option is that the server will also allow a user to restore it to factory settings – which, with VMware, will allow tech support to drop an image on to the system to get it back up and running. Option number three, meanwhile, will allow a user to take the server off line to preserve it for forensics in the event it needs to be used in a hacking investigation.

“They can study it, they can look at it, they can see exactly how that ransomware was operating,” he said.

The insurance company Marsh & McLennan awarded the server its Cyber Catalyst designation as a top security product calling it: “Arguably a close-to-perfect solution. Security that is baked in at the bare metal hardware level is the standard that security risk management professionals should strive for.” Marsh will offer discounted insurance rates to those selling Gen 10 servers, Whipple said.

MSPs in the room said they were anxious to return to their shops and “get this rolled out everywhere.”

“We just switched to the HPE ProLiant Servers. Just learning about the iLO 5 Advanced was worth coming to this whole thing,” said Jeff Willems, president of CSRA Technologies, an IT service provider to the U.S. military. “To be able to roll something back 24 hours earlier if we have a problem, I’m going to go back and challenge my guys: Let’s get this rolled out everywhere we have ProLiant servers.”

Christopher Alghini, the principal G Suite and Google Cloud consultant at Cool Head Tech in Austin, Tex., agreed.

“I was very impressed with the iLO advanced chip, and I can see where it would work really well for government and enterprise server installations,” he said. “For a data center install, these would be perfect devices because of the security and I think also the speed. Even if the chip is breached, to have that evidence to go back to, I think is an excellent idea as well, so there’s some recovery in there.”

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