Samsung unveils new security chip for smartphones

Samsung Electronics has introduced its second-generation security chip that protects smartphones from software and hardware attacks and keeps user data safe.

With more contactless services being offered in the wake of the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, proper and strengthened cybersecurity measures have become essential for all smartphone manufacturers, according to Samsung officials.

The latest security product is comprised of Samsung’s in-house Secure Element (SE) chip and cybersecurity software to offer protection for complicated tasks such as booting, isolated storage and mobile payment.

Samsung said device manufacturers can provide enhanced security protection measures as the latest product works independently of the device’s computer processor.

The company added that the new security chip would be commercially available in the third quarter at the earliest possible date.

“When this product is applied to smart devices, manufacturers won’t need to develop additional software for cybersecurity as the chip already includes cybersecurity measures both in terms of hardware and software,” a Samsung official said. “The chip also helps device manufacturers reduce their product development time.”

Samsung introduced the previous first-generation security chip for smart devices in February. The chip was included in the company’s flagship Galaxy S20 smartphones.

Compared with the first-generation chip, the latest model will offer improved security protection as the chip has received a 6+ score from the Common Criteria Evaluation Assurance Level (CC EAL), an international standard for computer security certification.

The CC EAL score ranges from one to seven, with a higher score meaning higher cybersecurity assurance. Samsung’s first-generation chip received a CC EAL score of 5+.

“CC EAL 6+ 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,” the company said.

The latest security product has double the storage capacity of the first-generation one. It also supports hardware-based root of trust (RoT) technology, which runs when a device is booted up, ensuring a secure boot and device authentication features.

“As a bootloader initiates, a chain of trust is activated through which each and every firmware with approved keys is sequentially validated. This secure booting process is handled by the RoT, guarding the device against any possible malicious attacks or unauthorized software updates,” Samsung said.

“In this era of mobility and contactless interactions, we expect our connected devices, such as smartphones or tablets, to be highly secure so as to protect personal data and enable fintech activities such as mobile banking, stock trading and cryptocurrency transactions,” Shin Dong-ho, senior vice president of System LSI marketing at Samsung, said in a press release. “With the new standalone security element solution, Samsung is mounting a powerful deadbolt on smart devices to safeguard private information.”