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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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Microsoft's beta Android launcher has digital health feature. Pixabay

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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Microsoft Rejects Request to Install Facial Recognition Technology in Officers’ Cars and Body Cameras

AI has more cases of mistaken identity with women and minorities, multiple research projects have found

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FILE - Brad Smith of Microsoft takes part in a panel discussion "Cyber, big data and new technologies. Current Internet Governance Challenges: What's Next?" at the United Nations in Geneva, Nov. 9, 2017. VOA

Microsoft recently rejected a California law enforcement agency’s request to install facial recognition technology in officers’ cars and body cameras because of human rights concerns, company President Brad Smith said Tuesday.

Microsoft concluded it would lead to innocent women and minorities being disproportionately held for questioning because the artificial intelligence has been trained on mostly white, male pictures.

AI has more cases of mistaken identity with women and minorities, multiple research projects have found.

“Anytime they pulled anyone over, they wanted to run a face scan” against a database of suspects, Smith said without naming the agency. After thinking through the uneven impact, “we said this technology is not your answer.”

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Microsoft concluded it would lead to innocent women and minorities being disproportionately held for questioning because the artificial intelligence has been trained on mostly white, male pictures. Pixabay

Prison contract accepted

Speaking at a Stanford University conference on “human-centered artificial intelligence,” Smith said Microsoft had also declined a deal to install facial recognition on cameras blanketing the capital city of an unnamed country that the nonprofit Freedom House had deemed not free. Smith said it would have suppressed freedom of assembly there.

On the other hand, Microsoft did agree to provide the technology to an American prison, after the company concluded that the environment would be limited and that it would improve safety inside the unnamed institution.

Smith explained the decisions as part of a commitment to human rights that he said was increasingly critical as rapid technological advances empower governments to conduct blanket surveillance, deploy autonomous weapons and take other steps that might prove impossible to reverse.

‘Race to the bottom’

Microsoft said in December it would be open about shortcomings in its facial recognition and asked customers to be transparent about how they intended to use it, while stopping short of ruling out sales to police.

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“Anytime they pulled anyone over, they wanted to run a face scan” against a database of suspects, Smith said without naming the agency. Pixabay

Smith has called for greater regulation of facial recognition and other uses of artificial intelligence, and he warned Tuesday that without that, companies amassing the most data might win the race to develop the best AI in a “race to the bottom.”

ALSO READ: Samsung to Inspect Problems Related to Galaxy Fold Screen

He shared the stage with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who urged tech companies to refrain from building new tools without weighing their impact.

“Please embody the human rights approach when you are developing technology,” said Bachelet, a former president of Chile. Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw declined to name the prospective customers the company turned down. (VOA)