How the Special Security Chip in Your Smartphones Work

Security is one of the most sought indication that people look out for when using anything which truly belongs to the Technology segment. However, most of the work and life we live is by going through the smartphones. Can’t blame anything in this part, so fine. So, if you ever feel so vulnerable or paranoid while using your smartphone, always remember that they do have a separate security chip. Most of the smartphones out there in recent times have this separate security chip which is present in your smartphone apart from the processor.

Technically, these chips are separate computers which are present in your smartphone running on different processors and memory. Moreover, they run on their own simple operating systems. These chips in all the smartphones work in a different manner.

The new Google Pixel smartphones are equipped with the Titan M chip which is a physical chip present in the device apart from the main processor. However, Apple’s Secure Enclave and ARM’s TrustZone is slightly different tech. It is put into the same main chip that is used in your Phone but still has a separate area of memory and a processor too.

Whatever the type of chip is, they run in the same manner with a different Operating System which has no connection to the main Operating System. So, even if your Android or iOS phone gets hacked or is stuck with a malware, it will never have any sort of access to the contents of this secure chip.

How does it help in protecting your phone?

Basically, all the data that you store in your smartphone is encrypted in a certain way. To decrypt this code, the system will be needing a key. This key that unlocks the encrypted data is stored in this separate in the secure area. So, when you are unlocking your phone using the fingerprint ID, Face Unlock, pattern or a pin, the data is triggered along with the key that is stored in the secure area and only then your device gets unlocked.

The key to decrypt the encryption will never leave the chip’s secure area and if someone is trying to unlock something that is locked, it will allow a delay between the attempts just to make sure. Even then, if they succeed in unlocking, they will never get to access the security keys without prompting them several times.

On iOS, the Security Enclave is being used on large scale from storing the fingerprint ID and Face ID. Even if an intruder gets through the main OS, they won’t be able to view any information about your fingerprints. On a similar note, Google Titan M chip is now capable and is open for developers to put this into their apps for secure transactions, all thanks to the “StrongBox KeyStore API”.

Almost the same as the above, Apple also lets the apps to store security keys in the Secure Enclave to ensure additional security. And on every boot of your iPhone, Secure Enclave will ensure whether its own software is signed by Apple itself or not. If not, you won’t be able to use the iPhone anymore.

Apparently, on the new Google Pixel devices, the Titan M chip will secure the Bootloader ensuring that you are using the last known safest version available for your device. So, it is not even possible to downgrade your phone or make a malicious replacement

Apart from these, the ARM’s TrustZone and Samsung’s Knox work quite the same as the Secure Enclave. It works in a secure area of the main processor to run the critical software. Even Samsung Pay uses ARM TrustZone, so all the keys are stored in an isolated area.

Wrapping up

You might be wondering if your phone really needs this type of security. With the number of money transactions and all the personal data that you store on your device, yes, your phone needs this security. You don’t really need to know about these but, from now on, you’ll feel more secure storing your sensitive data like credit cards and online banking details. Coming to the work part, an effort put by many smart people is behind this technology. So, just feel free to make sure that you feel safe. You’ll never have to think about security because of this type of technology.