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Microsoft Tackles IoT Security with New Azure Updates

The Azure Security Center for IoT provides teams with an overview of IoT devices and helps monitor their security properties.

Microsoft today announced Azure Security Center for IoT, a new set of programs and capabilities to help security teams monitor the security properties of industrial-connected devices.

Its debut, along with several other security updates focused on the Internet of Things (IoT) ahead of the 2019 Hannover Messe industrial manufacturing show, arrives at a time when manufacturing firms are digitizing their operations and want to better integrate security to protect processes and data.

The Azure Security Center for IoT provides users with a view of IoT security posture and helps implement best practices and mitigate threats across IoT hubs, compute, and data. Managers can pinpoint missing security configurations in IoT devices, the edge, and the cloud; check for open ports on IoT devices; confirm their SQL databases are encrypted; and remediate threats.

Azure Security Center for IoT links to Microsoft's Azure IoT Hub, a cloud-based IoT platform that helps connect and manage devices to develop IoT applications. This will make IoT security data directly available inside the hub, Microsoft reports in a blog post on today's updates.

Microsoft is also upping the capabilities of Azure Sentinel, the cloud-native security information and event management (SIEM) system it unveiled at the RSA Conference last month. Security operations teams often depend on SIEM tools to detect and mitigate advanced threats. Now Azure Sentinel users can combine IoT security data with security data from across their organizations and detect and respond to threats throughout the business, from IoT devices to Azure to Office 365 and on-prem systems.

The idea behind this announcement is to help manufacturers shrink the attack surface for Azure IoT tools running throughout their operations, and to address problems before they worsen.

Another noteworthy update in IoT news: Microsoft is expanding its Azure IP Advantage benefits to IoT devices connected to Azure and devices running on Azure Sphere and IoT. The program, first announced in February 2017, protects Azure cloud customers from intellectual property lawsuits. At the time, it made 10,000 Microsoft patents available to Azure customers.

Now Azure IP Advantage will also provide "uncapped indemnification coverage" for customers of Microsoft Azure Sphere and Windows IoT. Access to those 10,000 patents can help Azure users power their IoT devices without having to defend themselves against IP lawsuits.

Further, Microsoft is offering 500 patents to startups in the LOT Network, an organization that provides businesses with access to patents from member organizations. Companies in the LOT Network include big tech names such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Netflix.

As part of their free membership, approved startups can obtain and own Microsoft patents. However, as Microsoft corporate VP and deputy general counsel Erich Andersen told TechCrunch, in order to qualify, companies will have to spend a minimum of $1,000 on Azure per month.

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