Microsoft Azure Sphere, a holistic ecosystem designed to ensure all-round security, operability, scalability, and compatibility of IoT devices, is now available for general users. The platform is meant to offer reliable and secure connectivity to internet-connected, and always-on electronics that rely on microcontrollers.
Considering the rising usage and deployment of IoT devices, Microsoft has opened the doors to Linux-based Azure Sphere. The ecosystem is specifically designed for internet-connected and remote controllable electronic devices that are running on small chips called Microcontroller Units or MCUs. The platform is called a sphere because it attempts to cover all the major interface points that can be potentially exploited to take control of electronic devices.
Linux-Based Azure Sphere To Improve IoT Security And Reliability?
Microsoft claims the Azure Sphere has been specifically developed to ensure a robust and secure ecosystem is available to the IoT (Internet of Things) devices. The company assures Azure Sphere delivers quick and cost-effective device security for OEMs and organizations to protect the products they sell and the critical equipment that they rely on to drive new business value.
— Techtelegraph (@Techtelegraph4) February 25, 2020
Microsoft has confirmed that starting this week, the Linux-based Azure Sphere will be available to all the interested companies. Companies and manufacturers who are rapidly making their devices “Smart” and piling on advanced sensors, should benefit from the preexistent ecosystem that will allow secure communication and prevent remote exploitation attacks.
How Does Microsoft’s Linux-based Azure Sphere Work?
Microcontrollers Units are essentially System on a Chip (SoC) or Single-Board Computers. These low cost and low power computers are deployed to monitor and govern a number of functions within the ‘Smart’ appliances. They are essentially the power-efficient and always-on, always-connected brains of new-age electronic devices. It is these devices that remote attackers routinely target. Exploiting vulnerabilities and loopholes, malicious code writers are able to manipulate the MCUs and order the appliance to behave erratically or even conduct espionage.
Discover how you can help businesses leverage #IoT for devices already in the field. Watch now to see how #AzureSphere guardian modules can help connect & secure devices. https://t.co/lZJolXHgsN #IoTinActionMS pic.twitter.com/sUTARWqWeQ
— Microsoft Device & IoT Partners (@MSDeviceIoT) February 25, 2020
Azure Sphere is essentially three main components that help the MCUs remain protected and allow secure communication. It starts with the MCUs itself. Microsoft has partnered with multiple silicon semiconductor-making companies for building Azure Sphere certified chips. In fact, MediaTek’s MT3620 is the first Azure Sphere certified chip produced. Last year, Microsoft announced a partnership with NXP to release a new Azure Sphere certified chip. Microsoft also announced its partnership with Qualcomm to release the first cellular-enabled Azure Sphere chip.
Microsoft has also partnered with Seeed Studios and Avnet. Together, the companies are working on Azure Sphere Development Kits. As is the norm, such SDKs allow organizations to streamline and accelerate their prototyping and planning process. Microsoft also reportedly has an SDK for Linux and support for the Visual Studio Code. Apart from the hardware, Microsoft is clearly working on a secure operating system as well as cloud-based remote servers that connect and communicate securely with the MCUs.