Thursday, September 28 2023

Microsoft is taking action to fortify IoT devices against threats and support the U.S. National Cybersecurity strategy, according to a company blog post.

“Microsoft remains committed to supporting the U.S. National Cybersecurity Strategy and helping partners effectively deliver and maintain more secure IoT solutions using powerful technology, tools, and programs designed to improve security outcomes. It is vitally important that partners focus on IoT security by prioritizing security through smart design and development practices and carefully selecting platforms and security defaults that are secure as possible to lower the cost of maintaining the security of products,” the post said.

The U.S. National Cybersecurity Strategy, published in March, called for significant pivots in how the U.S. assigns duties, obligations, and assets within the cybersecurity industry. It sought to transfer the responsibility of cybersecurity to well-positioned, larger organizations and outlined a vision to foster long-term investments. According to the strategy, too many IoT devices lack adequate security, and are hard or impossible to upgrade. An implementation plan for the strategy was published in July that provided 65 directives for federal agencies, with 18 agencies and the Office of the National Cyber Director leading the plan.

The blog post outlined Microsoft’s application of the Zero Trust model to IoT. “Zero Trust is a proactive, integrated approach to security across all layers of the digital estate that explicitly and continuously verifies every transaction, asserts least privilege, and relies on intelligence, advanced detection, and real-time response to threats,” a Microsoft white paper noted.

To mitigate IoT cybersecurity threats, the Zero Trust approach necessitates secure endpoints, applications, APIs, data, infrastructure, and networks. Identities, whether that be people or IoT, must also be defended. Not only does the Zero Trust model align with the National Cybersecurity Strategy, but it also meets the needs of companies with a mobile workforce, ensuring greater security even outside of the physical workplace.

Companies can integrate the Zero Trust principles into their IoT and OT devices with Microsoft Defender for IoT.

The post also discussed Microsoft’s Edge Secured-core, a special certification for IoT devices running a complete operation system. These products meet security requirements such as a hardware-based service identity or built in security agent and hardening. The program is similar to an FCC proposal to create a cybersecurity labeling program. Starting as soon as 2024, consumers would see a “U.S. Cyber Trust Mark” shield logo applied to smart products that meet guidelines set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

It further highlighted the Windows IoT platform, which offers essential features to protect devices and data against the numerous threats commonly found in the modern digital environment. Among those features are exploit mitigations and device attestations. Similarly, Microsoft Azure Sphere is a cloud-based solution which secures IoT devices.

The blog post comes as lawmakers devote increasing attention to IoT devices. A letter from the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party to Federal Communications chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel asked for information about threats posed by Chinese cellular modules infiltrating IoT devices. “Does the FCC require or desire further statutory authorities to combat the threat that PRC cellular IoT modules pose?” they asked.


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