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[Update: 2nd-gen] Samsung’s Secure Element chip gives Galaxy phones a taste of Pixel’s ‘Titan M’

Security is an important part of our smartphones since they carry so much personal information, and as things advance, they’re only going to be carrying more. Today, Samsung is announcing a new “Secure Element” chip that’s a turnkey solution for securely storing this data, and it’s already being used on the Galaxy S20.

Update 5/26: A few months after revealing the original, Samsung has just announced a new security chip that will come to future Galaxy smartphones. S3FV9RR follows up on the chip that’s found in the Galaxy S20 — and detailed below — with a handful of improvements. For one, it has an even stronger security rating of (CC EAL) 6+ that is “utilized in applications that demand the most stringent security requirements in the market such as flagship smartphones, e-passports, and hardware wallets for cryptocurrency.”

Samsung also explains that this new chip has twice as much storage onboard for storing secure information and also allows for “hardware-based root of trust (RoT), secure boot, and device authentication.” The chip itself is also very small, as pictured below.

The new chip will be available in Q3 of 2020, so it might end up in the Galaxy Note 20, or at least Samsung’s 2021 flagships.

The S3K250AF is a new chip from Samsung that the company is not only using in its own devices, but also making available to other smartphone makers as part of a “Secure Element (SE) turnkey solution for mobile devices.” The idea here is to provide these devices with a secure, separate place to store a user’s most important data such as biometric details, PINs/passwords, and, as Samsung mentions, “crypto-currency credentials.”

Samsung also touts that the S3K250AF chip has achieved a Common Criteria Evaluation Assurance Level (CC EAL) 5+ rating. Apparently, that’s the highest rating a mobile component can achieve.

From checking emails and making online payments to replacing house keys and airplane tickets, smart devices continue to offer more applications that enforce stronger security requirements. Samsung’s new turnkey solution is a dedicated tamper-resistant strongbox that securely stores users’ confidential and cryptographic data such as pin numbers, passwords, and even crypto-currency credentials separate from the typical mobile memory such as embedded Universal Flash Storage (eUFS).

This new Secure Element chip is present in all three of Samsung’s new Galaxy S20 smartphones, something that Samsung failed to mention previously. Notably, some of Samsung’s biggest competitors in Apple and Google have their own chips for this purpose with the T2 Security Chip and Titan M in the iPhone and Pixel, respectively.


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