Microsoft introduces Guardian Modules to enable secure connections for IoT devices

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Guardian Modules supports old IoT devices

Leading technology giant, Microsoft has introduced a Guardian Modules concept, where Azure Sphere microcontroller units can be used to enable secure connections for the older Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Though, it was assumed that Azure Sphere microcontroller units would just be used in new or “greenfield” rollouts of IoT devices. However, Microsoft is considering the fact that Azure Sphere can support older “brownfield” IoT deployments too. The older IoT devices will be secured as soon as Azure Sphere microcontroller units function as Guardian modules for them. It can be done when Azure Sphere microcontroller units serve as Guardian Modules for existing IoT devices. Moreover, Guardian Modules is the solution for a disconnected IoT world of devices. Additionally, the Guardian Modules permits older IoT equipment that was disconnected or “air-gapped,” possibly for security reasons, to become connected units.

Azure Sphere Solution to detect emerging threats

The Azure Sphere solution has three parts: Azure Sphere MCUs, the Azure Sphere OS and Azure Sphere Security Service. Besides that, it consists of a chip with processing, memory and security capabilities, plus a Linux-based operating system that Microsoft introduced last year to support IoT devices. These components of the Azure Sphere guard each Azure Sphere device and deliver end-to-end IoT security. Additionally, the sphere solution helps the old IoT devices by responding to emerging threats.

Protecting IoT devices from attacks

Once the Azure Sphere Solution components are utilized as Guardian Modules, the Azure Sphere microcontroller units (MCU) will be connected to the Azure Sphere Security Service on behalf of the brownfield IoT device. This arrangement protects the equipment from attack. Moreover, it ensures that data is only transmitted between trusted cloud and device communications partners. Plus, it guarantees that software of the module and the equipment remains intact and secured. The brownfield IoT device also can benefit by getting software updates from the Azure Sphere Security Service.

Guidelines to enhance security

Microsoft has co-authored a Security Model Practitioner’s Guide in conjunction with the Industrial Internet Consortium. This guide allows organizations to meet their scenario needs without over-investing in security mechanisms. Though, the guide isn’t prescriptive on the specific security measures that need to be adopted. Instead, companies go through a process of first recognizing an industry profile target they want to reach. Next, they assess their current security maturity state. This helps the companies to highlight areas where security could be improved.



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