Microsoft's Azure Sphere is built to secure IoT devices

Azure Sphere
Azure Sphere (Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft today unveiled Azure Sphere (opens in new tab), its bid to help secure the billions of microcontroller-powered internet of things (IoT) devices the company says are deployed every year. Made up of three parts, Azure Sphere includes an operating system, dedicated Azure Sphere-certified microcontrollers (MCUs), and an Azure Sphere Security Service.

One of the more interesting parts of Azure Sphere is the certified microcontrollers. The MCUs combine "both real-time and application processors with built-in Microsoft security technology and connectivity," Microsoft says. Further, the silicon security technology takes advantage of "years of experience" Microsoft has under its belt in bolstering its Xbox chipsets. Azure Sphere-certified chips are expected to arrive from a number of partners in the future, and MediaTek is already producing its own, Microsoft says.

The MCUs can be combined with Azure Sphere OS, which, interestingly, is built on a custom Linux kernel. The OS combines multiple layers of security intended to further protect IoT devices from attack. Azure Sphere Security Service's role in all of this is to act as a "turnkey, cloud service" that protects each Azure Sphere device, including device-to-device and device-to-cloud communication.

The purpose behind all of this is to provide a holistic approach to security for IoT devices. With hardware, an OS, and a security service so deeply integrated, Azure Sphere could offer a compelling option for companies building IoT devices. And since IoT appears ready to boom as more and more internet-connected devices hit the market, Azure Sphere could put Microsoft in a strong position going forward – if it can get others on board.

Azure Sphere is available now in private preview, and the first Azure Sphere chip, the MediaTek MT3620, is expected to hit the market later this year.

Azure Sphere made its debut today at RSA Conference, where Microsoft also made a few other security-related announcements, including new threat detection and remediation tools for Windows Defender ATP. For more, check out Microsoft's full announcement (opens in new tab) at the Azure blog.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • If Microsoft is making a new light OS, it's for IoT.
  • Judging on the word of the blog, this is great news all around. I look forward to experience some of it in action.
  • Don't fall for these Microsoft puppets who still think it's all sunshine and rainbows for the future of Windows in the consumer market. They have a history of keeping their readers in delusion. If you want unbiased take on Microsoft news, go to thurrot, neowin or some other site.
  • Lol. Of course they're "unbiased" because they align with the defeatist, overly pessimistic messaging that you love. If you love them so much, I wonder why you're here. I'm sure you think MSPU is a bastion of unbiased, balanced reporting too. L O L
  • @HassanAdam: What an odd news item to choose as your petard to hoist yourself upon. This announcement actually has a fair amount of respect and cautious optimism across the security industry. At least for non-bomb throwers.
  • Most arcade gamers and the new-gen vending machines in Japan runs on Windows. People are building security cam with Azure, MS's AI and win10.IOT, Some government projects uses win10.IOT, AI and Azure as well. Sphero is building their next robot with win10.IOT too.
  • Nadella and Microsoft will just turn his back on his clients when things get tough. No Way I am recommending or even discussing anything that run this with anyone