Developers can now use the Rust programming language when creating applications in the Azure Sphere platform for Internet-connected devices.

Developers can take advantage of the performance and security capabilities in Rust to create software for IoT devices and other embedded systems that may be the target of botnets and other malware.

The move by tech giant Microsoft, which introduced the idea back in June 2022, coincides with Google’s decision that it will support third-party Rust libraries in its open-source Chronium project. Like Microsoft, Google highlighted the security features in the programming language.

“Rust and Azure Sphere are a good match – a programming language that can improve safety of code with strict compile time safety checks alongside Azure Sphere’s secure identity, update, and end-to-end encrypted communication services for internet-connected devices should provide greater security to the customer applications,”

Akshatha Udayashankar, an embedded software engineer at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post.

Azure Sphere includes built-in security features for Internet-connected devices and consists of hardware built on chips from MediaTek and a Linux-based operating system. It also includes cloud-based Azure Sphere Security Services (AS3), which creates a secure connection between devices and the Internet or cloud.

AS3 provides secure boot, device identity authentication, software trust, and device certification that works with trusted code. Thanks to it, Microsoft can securely download updates to the Azure Sphere operating system and apps to devices.

The Microsoft blog explains that Rust strives to make code safe and code fast. Zero-cost abstractions ensure that higher-level features are compiled into low-level code as quickly as code is written by hand. Checks performed by the Rust compiler ensure stability by adding features and refactoring. This contrasts with legacy code in languages without these checks, which is riskier and requires more careful attention, review, and testing.

Like other Azure Sphere applications, those now built in Rust are expected to be fully functional in 2031, regardless of security patches, fixes, and new features added to Azure Sphere OS by then. Rust can be very efficient, but by including many dependencies in the application itself, in some cases it may be necessary to evaluate how a Rust implementation uses memory compared to a C-language application.

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