Microsoft EMEA: The IoT Design Conference

08 June, 2018
IoT blog image-1
Microsoft EMEA: The IoT Design Conference

Thursday 7th June, Microsoft hosted the second EMEA IoT conference at their Reading headquarters. The focus was on positioning IoT technologies, use cases and partner introductions.

“The IoT has the potential to impact everything from new product opportunities, to shop floor optimization, to factory worker efficiency gains that will power top-line and bottom line gains.” Goldman Sachs

Microsoft on IoT

Microsoft announced earlier this year that they are investing $5 billion in IoT over the next four years, trebling the investment seen over recent years. The investment follows clarity of the value proposition the tools can bring; Microsoft are in the best position to understand and develop tools that will empower and bring benefit.

Microsoft position the Internet of Things as a business revolution that’s enabled by technology (rather than a technology revolution). This slight shift demonstrates understanding of customer needs and demands; where digitalisation is currently largely a peripheral concern for business although with clear shift expected to becoming core.

Microsoft IoT offerings

The Microsoft IoT offerings: Windows 10 IoT, Azure IoT Edge and Azure Sphere work to bring step change benefits to business today. Windows 10 IoT is testament to the devices that we have all been accessing and using for many years (for example, super-market self checkouts). Windows 10 IoT provides a faster time to market with the benefits of intelligent security and intelligent Edge.

It’s all about Azure

Azure IoT Edge is fast becoming the practical deployment of Azure IoT (the Azure IoT suite now Solution Accelerators). Edge computing does need to synchronise with the Azure IoT periodically but with greater control over the amount of data transferred and stored in the cloud, customers benefit from reduced costs and faster processing. Edge makes use of the powerful microcontroller (MCU) in each smart device.

Azure Sphere addresses the security concerns around Edge computing. Where Edge relies on the smart device, the concerns are the connected MCUs in the devices become open doors for hackers. Microsoft has gained lots of experience of security for devices, particularly with Xbox, one of the most attacked devices and where Microsoft have had to solve real world problems with each release.

The result is what Microsoft call The Seven Properties of Highly Secure Devices and this in turn has been used as the measure for Azure Sphere:


Examples and Questions to Prove the Property

Hardware-based Root of Trust

Unforgeable cryptographic keys generated and protected by hardware. Physical countermeasures resist side-channel attacks.

Does the device have a unique, unforgeable identity that is inseparable from the hardware?

Small Trusted Computing Base

Private keys stored in a hardware-protected vault, inaccessible to software. Division of software into self-protecting layers.

Is most of the device’s software outside the device’s trusted computing base?

Defence in Depth

Multiple mitigations applied against each threat. Countermeasures mitigate the consequences of a successful attack on any one vector.

Is the device still protected if the security of one layer of device software is breached?


Hardware-enforced barriers between software components prevent a breach in one from propagating to others.

Does a failure in one component of the device require a reboot of the entire device to return to operation?

Certificate-based Authentication

Signed certificate, proven by unforgeable cryptographic key, proves the device identity and authenticity.

Does the device use certificates instead of passwords for authentication?

Renewable Security

Renewal brings the device forward to a secure state and revokes compromised assets for known vulnerabilities or security breaches.

Is the device’s software updated automatically?

Failure Reporting

A software failure, such as a buffer overrun induced by an attacker probing security, is reported to cloud-based failure analysis system.

Does the device report failures to its manufacturer?


Let’s talk benefits

With security no longer a barrier the question is, what are the benefits of Edge processing?

  • Speed: Edge computing enables fast responses at local level, supporting critical decision making.
  • Reliability: Edge can work with intermittent internet connection.
  • Security and compliance: reducing the data sent up to the cloud reduced amount of data to worry about. Combined with Azure Sphere to ensure use of compliant MCUs, secured OS and secured Cloud.
  • Efficient bandwidth utilisation (cost!): optimising carrier cost by only moving data to and from the cloud when needed.
  • Interoperability between new and legacy devices.

What’s next?

We will be running Azure IoT Edge hands on labs; please send us an email here to register your interest.

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Categories: Digitization