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August 4, 2016

Microsoft updates privacy policy to capture even more user data, ramps up Azure IoT security

News: IoT connections will be more secure but Cortana becomes more hungry for data.

By James Nunns

Microsoft has achieved a new security milestone for its cloud offering Azure.

The cloud platform can now claim support for X.509 certificates for device-level authentication and an ISO security certificate.

The addition of X.509 will mean that the Azure cloud should be better at handling Internet of Things traffic to the Azure IoT Hub.

What this means is that an IoT device can now store a private key locally, and an associated device X.509 certificate is generated to identify the device before any information is transmitted.

Basically, device identity can be transmitted safely and securely from the edge to the cloud, hopefully.

The addition of the ISO 27017:2015 cloud security certificate comes after the company was found to be compliant with 44 cloud risk and threat model controls.

The hope is that with more security credentials the more appeal the Azure cloud will have among enterprises and businesses that may have lingering security concerns regarding the use of cloud for important data.

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In addition to the security updates Microsoft has updated its privacy policy to add in a section devoted to “Enterprise Products.”

The section will cover products that are, “offered or primarily for use by organisations and developers.” This will include products like Office 365, Microsoft Azure, Dynamics CRM Online, Intune, and Yammer, it also covers Windows Server, SQL Server, Visual Studio, and System Centre.

The new policy won’t necessarily overwrite products with their own separate privacy policy, the company said: “In the event of a conflict between a Microsoft privacy statement and the terms of any agreement(s) between a customer and Microsoft, the terms of those agreement(s) will control,” the policy also covers end-users and resellers.

Microsoft says that its Online services will be collecting all things such as text, sound, video, images, and software that are provided to Microsoft by, or on behalf of you or your end users. However, it won’t use customer data or derive information from it for any advertising or similar commercial purposes, which is reassuring.

More worrisome additions are things like any contact information of colleagues or friends that is included by an admin when establishing an account, will be used by Microsoft “for the limited purpose of sending them an invitation to use the Online Services,” and it may include information such as a name or profile photo.

So if anyone starts getting bombarded with requests by Microsoft to use Online Services then it could be that an admin ‘friend’ has been giving your details out.

Microsoft may also use Administrator Data for providing account information, and it may contact with third-party enquiries regarding use of Online Services and the cherry on top is: “You will not be able to unsubscribe from these non-promotional communications,” the policy says.

Further additions see permission being granted to Cortana to access browsing history so that Microsoft Edge search queries and full browsing history can be seen in order to “personalise your experience.”

Microsoft updated and introduced the policy on the 2nd of August so it might be worth a check of the policy updates to see if anything impacts you. The updates can be read here.

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