Microsoft is developing a secure processor for The Internet of Things under the banner of Project Sopris, Wired reports.
The Project Sopris microcontroller is in the prototype stage and essentially incorporates features that Microsoft has identified as necessary for secure devices. Among them, features for conducting regular software updates and securing data. The chip is also meant to be updated over time in the hopes of staying one step ahead of evolving threats and attacks.
A separate security processor on the Sopris chip is used to manage encryption processing and auditing of the device integrity. Sopris will be able to kill off suspicious or misbehaving processes or even restart the device when needed to eradicate memory-resident malware.
Critically, the Sopris processor also allows developer to compartmentalize different processes, allowing customers to isolate functions.
The security of hardware and software that is used across embedded devices has become a major issue facing The Internet of Things. Botnets like Mirai and the more recent LinuxProxyM spread by taking advantage of vulnerabilities in common embedded device hardware and software, or by exploiting weak security protections. More recently, Intel was forced to patch software holes in its Management Engine, Trusted Execution Engine and Server Platform Services – software that runs on millions of devices.
Microsoft isn’t alone in focusing on hardware to power the next generation of connected devices. Electronics giant Samsung has been making investments in IoT at an increasing pace in recent years. As early as 2014, the company was talking up investments in IoT security technology. Security was also a key benefit of the company’s ARTIK IoT platform, which was announced in April 2016 as well as the company’s decision to acquire Joyent, a U.S. based cloud provider to support mobile and Internet of Things products and its acquisition of the firm Darktrace.