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November 9, 2017

Microsoft taps Intel for cloud server security

Intel is supporting Microsoft in the process of tracking down the right implementation model for the enhancing firmware security.

By Tom Ball

Working to bolster the security of its cloud servers, Microsoft has joined forces with Intel to work on the array of firmware elements involved in the process.

The initiative is called Project Cerberus and involves secure code in a process that is intended to provide constant insight into the security status of cloud servers.

Microsoft has expressed ambitions to share the product of its work with Intel on an open source basis, providing access to others looking to bolster firmware reliant systems within cloud servers.

Microsoft taps Intel for cloud server security

Microsoft’s cloud focussed security efforts are an element of a wider scheme called Project Olympus, a cloud hardware innovation drive that is geared toward scale.

Microsoft says the project “consists of a cryptographic microcontroller running secure code which intercepts accesses from the host to flash over the SPI bus (where firmware is stored), so it can continuously measure and attest these accesses to ensure firmware integrity and hence protect against unauthorized access and malicious updates.”

Project Cerberus is centred on the idea that confidence in firmware must be instilled from the ground up, ensuring that it is established on the motherboard as a basis for overall security.

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“We are collaborating with Intel to explore optimal implementation models for platform firmware security. In the spirit of community empowerment, we plan on open sourcing the draft Project Cerberus specifications (still under development) to OCP. In addition, we are also working with NIST and Intel to provide feedback on the 800-193 draft specification.”

Microsoft has been opening up the accessibility to its capabilities with the introduction of the SQL Server 2017 in a hybrid approach. This has involved working in conjunction with Linux, also providing a containerised version for Docker. The Linux version has been extremely popular, with over two million downloads of the SQL Server in the preview period alone.

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