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.
"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.
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.
The company last month announced to invest $5 billion in IoT over the next four years.
"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".
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.
(Nishant Arora is in Seattle on an invitation from Microsoft. He can be contacted at email@example.com)