Microsoft’s first-ever Linux based Azure Sphere to power and protect intelligent edge

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Microsoft, at RSA 2018, announced the preview of its new solution targeted towards powering and securing IoT devices called Azure Sphere.

The new solution will help in the creation of highly secure and internet- connected MCU (microcontroller) devices.

These devices can range from simple household gadgets like smart fridges, lightbulbs and thermometers to industrial IoT devices like digital sensors, smart meters etc. whose security is often neglected.

The devices carry a lot of data, which if compromised can be hazardous for the entire society. Such an incident happened in 2016 when due to lack of security features on these devices, hackers targeted over 300,000 devices and launched a widespread DDoS (denial-of-service) attack. The incident was dubbed as Mirai.

Azure Sphere is built on decades of Microsoft experience in securing data and cloud capabilities.

The new solution includes three components that work combinedly to protect and power intelligent devices:

Source: Microsoft

  • Certified Microcontrollers

The new class of MCUs combine both real-time and application processors with the built-in security technology and connectivity of Microsoft. Every chip includes Microsoft’s custom silicon security technology combined with its expertise and learnings from Xbox for securing this new MCUs class and the powered devices.

  • Azure Sphere OS

The Azure Sphere OS has been specifically built to provide unmatched security and agility to the devices. The IoT OS consists of many layers of security and combines the security solutions used in Windows, a security monitor and a custom Linux Kernel. This will help in the creation of highly secured software ecosystem and completely reliable platform for newer and richer IoT experiences.

  • Azure Sphere Security Service

It is a cloud service that will protect every Azure Sphere device through certificate based authentication. It can identify potential threats across the Azure Sphere ecosystem via failure reports and software updates.

The Azure Sphere solution is first of its kind solution that meets all the 7 properties of a highly secured device.

With this move, Microsoft is all set to bolster its position in the IoT market against leading IaaS provider like AWS.

Microsoft, with this announcement, has also furthered its strategy to adopt Linux into its solutions. The OSS licensed Linux Kernel used in the Azure Sphere IoT will enable the silicon partners to quickly develop new silicon innovations.

Microsoft, instead of manufacturing these MCUs at their own centers, is asking other device manufacturers to develop chips using the new Technology. The first chip – MediaTek MT3620, will be available later this year and will be manufactured by MediaTek Inc. – a Taiwan based chip maker.

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