Our mobile operating systems are protected with adequate software-based security measures to keep the miscreants away, but there's always more that can be done. Apple and Google took their safekeeping practices a step further when they introduced physical data security chips inside their phones a couple of years ago. Samsung is now joining them with its own version called Secure Element (SE) which the Galaxy S20 series already comes equipped with.
Much like other implementations we’ve seen so far, Samsung’s Secure Element separates its memory from the main device storage to isolate the kind of confidential information it is designed to store. Samsung says that the tamper-resistant strongbox stores your passwords, PINs, and cryptocurrency credentials. Though it hasn’t specified what happens to the user’s fingerprint data, we assume it’s included in the secured data package, based on how Google's Titan M works.
Samsung’s turnkey solution uses the S3K250AF security chip that is paired with optimized software to provide users with improved hardware-level protection. It has earned a Common Criteria Evaluation Assurance Level (CC EAL) 5+ certification (level 7 being the top tier) — the highest for a mobile component, according to the company. This combination, Samsung says, can prevent user data against more advanced threats that involve reverse engineering, power glitches, and even laser attacks.
The recently announced S20 line of premium handsets already has the Secure Element chip preinstalled. It wasn’t immediately clear if the chip is enabled right out of the box or if it requires a software update following today’s announcement to bring it to life. The SE’s production is already in full swing, and future Galaxies, at least the high-end ones, are expected to house it too. Various software-based security measures are already in place under the Knox platform for existing Samsung phones and tablets.