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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Micron sees IoT security through memory (via Microsoft Azure)

By Nick Flaherty

Memory maker Micron has teamed up with Microsoft to add authentication technology to its memory devices to boost the security of the Internet of Things. This is linked to Microsoft's move to provide IoT-as-a-service on the Azure cloud.
The technology uses a hardware ‘root of trust' integrated into Micron's flash memory in the IoT device along with the Microsoft Azure IoT cloud to establish a strong trusted link between that IoT device and the cloud.

Micron has also launched strong cryptographic identity and device health management in flash memory. The concept of monitoring persistent memory storage is becoming more and more critical to understanding a device's health and by using Microsoft's support of Device Identity Composition Engine (DICE), an upcoming standard from the Trusted Computing Group (TCG), the combination of the Azure IoT cloud and Authenta helps ensure that only trusted hardware gains access to the IoT cloud.

The key aspect of the combined solution is that the health and identity of an IoT device is verified in hardware on the device where critical code is typically stored. This enables more advanced functionality like hardware-based device attestation and provisioning.

Authenta provides protection for the lowest layers of IoT device software, starting with the boot process. This enables system developers to harden system level security without adding additional hardware components, leading to a more affordable and robust IoT solution, and means IoT devices that use standard flash memory chips (which is most of them) can now be enhanced to improve cyber-security using this combined approach.

Microsoft and Micron will offer software development kits (SDKs) that help make it easier to provide the secure IoT cloud management and connectivity for new platforms and devices, as well as the ability to retrofit legacy systems.

Expect Micron to be in discussion with other cloud providers on SDKs to link Authenta to other services so that hardware designs are not locked into one cloud provider. 
"Microsoft and Micron are collaborating to provide customers with a unified approach to improve IoT security. This capability will speed up adoption of the latest IoT concepts by enabling customers to broaden their IoT connectivity while decreasing the investment of implementation," said Sam George, director of Azure IoT cloud services. "Combining these technologies will enable critical security competencies to be underpinned at a low-level in both hardware and software so that users can quickly begin to add their value to these solutions without many of the resource burdens that have been repressing innovation in the industry."

"A secure Internet of Things requires an always on trust between billions of end-points and cloud management services. Anchors of this trust must be rooted in hardware and be scalable to even the smallest embedded devices," said Amit Gattani, senior director of Segment Marketing, Embedded Business at Micron. "We are pleased to see Microsoft extending their Azure IoT platform to include such trust services and creating an ecosystem with partners like Micron that provide hardware root of trust building blocks for end-devices. This will significantly ease developments and deployments for our customers across Industrial, Automotive and Consumer IoT markets."

Authenta is initially available in the Serial NOR product family and is sampling now to select customers. Users of Microsoft's DICE technology and Azure IoT services can now contact Micron and Microsoft to begin evaluation and integration of these security and identity solutions. 

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