Microsoft is developing its first Linux distribution to help secure IoT devices

William Gayde

Posts: 380   +5
Staff member

As more devices are connected to the internet, there is an equally growing concern about security. Internet of Things (IoT) devices often prioritize cost or convenience ahead of security and this has lead to a massive increase in botnets that take advantage of them. You might see a connected fridge as convenient for reminding you when you're out of eggs, but a hacker may see it as a perfectly inconspicuous way to send out spam or flood a website.

To combat this growing risk, Microsoft is launching its own three-pronged solution called Azure Sphere. It will consist of a secured microcontroller, a secure operating system, and a secure cloud environment. Microsoft is basing this security platform on seven key principles.

The first part of Azure Sphere is the Secured MCU. This chip is designed in-house by Microsoft and focuses on safeguarding encryption keys. Microsoft will make them available royalty-free to manufacturers down the road for better integration. The MCUs feature ARM Cortex-A processors, flash storage, memory, network connectivity, and Microsoft's Pluton security module.

Azure Sphere OS is the first Linux distribution Microsoft has ever developed. It is based on the Linux kernel and is designed to run on low-power devices. Code on the OS will run in isolated containers along with an underlying security monitor to verify system integrity.

The last piece is Azure Sphere Security Service. This is a cloud-based service that will push out software updates, detect security vulnerabilities, and maintain secure communications between all aspects of the Azure Sphere.

The platform will become available through development kits later this year with the hope of launching full devices by the end of the year. It is currently being tested in a closed preview.

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Posts: 1,419   +320
Microsoft should avoid these names for its Linux distribution: microsux, windux, or linwin,


Yet another SNAFU of Windows thinking wedging its way into other environments. The architectures of Linux vs Windows are totally different at the process level. It will be interesting to watch updates being pushed into systems with limited resources and to see what form of System Restore gets created for these devices :ROFL:


Posts: 3,458   +4,026
OK, this is a little spooky since I was promoting exactly this idea less than two weeks ago. I didn't say that Azure needed to be integral but the rest of it is disturbingly similar. Could it be that Microsoft sees a real need in the industry and is trying to provide a sensible solution? Because that sounds like something the old Microsoft would do.
After working decades with Microsoft as a Systems Engineer, now retired, I cringe at the thought of Microsoft jumping into the Linux arena. It's sort of like asking your old girlfriend from college to come live with you and your wife isn't it? It'll be a shock to nearly everyone if this works at all. Sorry for the downer post... just had to put in my 2 cents!