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Microsoft in Motion to Secure Billions of Connected ‘Edge’ Devices

The company expects 20 billion connected devices globally by 2020

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In a blog post on Friday, Microsoft President Brad Smith said a government initiative to regulate the proper use of facial recognition technology is the need of the hour.
In a blog post on Friday, Microsoft President Brad Smith said a government initiative to regulate the proper use of facial recognition technology is the need of the hour. Pixabay
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As the world prepares to see billions of connected devices in the next few years, Microsoft is busy creating a right mix of first responders — putting a robust Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology in place to safeguard Cloud-powered “Edge” devices against cyber attacks, a top company executive has emphasised.

The company expects 20 billion connected devices globally by 2020.

While “Intelligent Cloud”, “Intelligent Edge” and the Internet of Things (IoT) present enormous opportunities, the ever-growing threat of hackers breaking into those devices — be in office or at home — is for real.

The “Edge” broadly means when end users interact with Cloud, such devices can be anything — from drones to PCs, from smartphones to cameras, from refrigerators to TVs and so on.

Microsoft
Microsoft. (Wikimedia commons)

“We see attacks coming from all sides — via passwords, emails, spam, malicious links or websites and so on — targeting millions of end-point devices and Cloud infrastructure at any given point of time.

“What sets us apart from the others are our AI algorithms and a full-time team of 35,000 engineers — working round-the-clock to spot bad actors, analyse and mitigate those. They are our first responders to cyber threats,” Julia White, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Azure, told IANS.

Microsoft uses advanced analytics — processing more than 450 billion authentications per month, scanning 400 billion emails for malware and phishing and updating one billion devices — to deliver actionable insights.

Also Read: AI- Powered Microsoft 365 Business Tool to Protect SMBs

The company’s “Intelligent Security Graph” takes advantage of advanced analytics that link a massive amount of threat intelligence and security data to provide insights that can strengthen security.

“With the ‘Intelligence Security Graph’, we can see wide range of attacks and build better AI models to find anomalies and secure our customers who are constantly asking for enhanced experiences with devices and Azure Cloud,” she informed on the sidelines of the “Build 2018” Developers’ Conference here.

Microsoft spends over $1 billion every year on cyber safety and security-related research and development.

When it comes to Cloud security, Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) is another service that provides a secure solution for an organisation via stronger identity management and single sign-on (SSO) access to thousands of Cloud-based and on-premises apps. You can find and complete Azure security training through online courses.

The company last month announced to invest $5 billion in IoT over the next four years.

Microsoft's building.
The office building of Microsoft. Pixabay

“IoT is ultimately going to be the new ‘Intelligent Edge’. With our IoT platform spanning Cloud, OS and devices, we are uniquely positioned to simplify the IoT journey so the customer can create trusted, connected solutions,” White noted.

The company’s “Azure IoT Edge” service delivers Cloud intelligence locally in a country by deploying and running AI, Azure services, and custom logic directly on cross-platform IoT devices.

“There are so many ‘Edge’ devices now that we have open-sourced ‘Azure IoT Edge’ for the developers’ community. It will allow customers to modify, debug and have more transparency and control for ‘Edge’ applications,” White elaborated.

To help enterprises secure their data and networks against growing cyber attacks, Microsoft recently introduced “Azure Sphere”, an industry-first platform to create secured, connected micro-controller unit (MCU) devices on the “Intelligent Edge”.

Also Read: $25mn Microsoft AI Initiative to Empower People with Disabilities

MCU-powered devices are the most populous area of computing, with roughly nine billion new devices being introduced every year. MCUs are found in everything — from toys and household appliances to industrial equipments.

“We’re now seeing the kind of increased adoption and exponential growth that analysts have been forecasting for years, and we’re just getting started. This effect will be pervasive, from connected homes and cars to manufacturers to smart cities and utilities — and everything in between,” White stressed.

“We will continue research and development in key areas, including securing IoT, creating development tools and intelligent services for IoT and the ‘Edge,'” she added. (IANS)

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Tech Giants to join Data Transfer Project (DTP) To Help Users Manage Data

The Data Transfer Project uses services' existing APIs and authorisation mechanisms to access data. It then uses service specific adapters to transfer that data into a common format, and then back into the new service's API.

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According to Google, the project will let users "transfer data directly from one service to another, without needing to download and re-upload it". (Wikimedia Commons)

To help billions of users manage their data and help them transfer that into and out of online services without privacy issues, four tech giants — Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter — on Friday announced to join the open source initiative called Data Transfer Project (DTP).

In the early stages at the moment, the Data Transfer Project will help users of one service to use their data to sign up for another service with encryption.

“Using your data from one service when you sign up for another still isn’t as easy as it should be. Today we’re excited to announce that we’re participating in the Data Transfer Project,” said Steve Satterfield, Privacy and Public Policy Director at Facebook in a statement.

The initiative comes at a time when data-sharing is making headlines — be it the massive Cambridge Analytica data scandal or third-party apps accessing users’ data at various platforms — amid countries announcing new data-protection laws like the European General Data Regulation Protection (GDPR).

Moving data between any two services can be complicated because every service is built differently and uses different types of data that may require unique privacy controls and settings.

“For example, you might use an app where you share photos publicly, a social networking app where you share updates with friends, and a fitness app for tracking your workouts,” said Satterfield.

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Moving data between any two services can be complicated because every service is built differently. Pixabay

“These are the kinds of issues the Data Transfer Project will tackle. The Project is in its early stages, and we hope more organisations and experts will get involved,” he added.

The Data Transfer Project uses services’ existing APIs and authorisation mechanisms to access data. It then uses service specific adapters to transfer that data into a common format, and then back into the new service’s API.

According to Google, the project will let users “transfer data directly from one service to another, without needing to download and re-upload it”.

The tech giants also released a white paper on this project.

“The future of portability will need to be more inclusive, flexible, and open. Our hope for this project is that it will enable a connection between any two public-facing product interfaces for importing and exporting data directly,” read the white paper.

According to Damien Kieran, Data Protection Officer at Twitter, right now, much of the online products and services we use do not interact with each other in a coherent and intuitive fashion.

“Information that is housed on one platform cannot be easily and securely transferred to other services. This is not a positive collective experience for the people who use our services and we are keen to work through some of the challenges as an industry,” Twitter said.

Also Read-Google, Facebook Have Been Using “Dark Patterns”: Report

The Data Transfer Project was formed in 2017 to create an open-source, service-to-service data portability platform so that all individuals across the web could easily move their data between online service providers whenever they want. (IANS)