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article imageGoogle's Pixel 2 has a dedicated security chip to keep data safe

By James Walker     Nov 15, 2017 in Technology
Google's detailed how the "tamper-resistant" security chip inside the Pixel 2 helps keep enterprise users secure. The chip is a first for Android and helps the device verify it's being used by its real owner. Google said it puts security "at the core."
The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are smartphones with a long string of hardware problems. According to Google, security isn't one of them as the devices have dedicated tamper-resistant security modules. They operate independently of the main processor to add another security layer to Android's protections.
The module's package contains everything it needs to operate without calling on external resources. By bundling a special co-processor and its own memory together, the chip can take control of its own operations and identify when an attacker's trying to tamper with it. The module continually monitors the rest of the device to identify suspect activity.
The anti-tamper protections can find and block most forms of attack, including ones based around physical fault injection or penetration techniques. It will thwart power analysis attacks, electromagnetic sniffing and attempts to circumvent the main processor's timing circuits. It's also able to block device usage when operating conditions fall outside normal standards, such as when an irregular voltage is being supplied to the processor.
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Google said these enhanced protections should provide peace-of-mind. By being the first Android manufacturer to offer a security chip, it hopes to make the Pixel 2 more attractive to enterprise customers. The company said it can defend against "an entire class" of emerging hardware-based attack vectors. Over time, more devices will benefit from the Android platform support for security modules.
"Businesses that choose the new Google Pixel 2, or a future Android device with tamper-resistant hardware, will have more peace of mind that critical company data is safer against an entire class of sophisticated hardware attacks," said Google. "These security upgrades, along with the comprehensive and innovative management features that Android brings to work, give your business a powerful set of tools for a mobile workforce."
Besides the hardware protection capabilities, the Pixel 2's security module also provides improved software protections. These include an enhanced environment to verify your passcode in, making it harder for attackers to bypass the lockscreen.
Because the security chip performs so few functions, it has a very small attack surface that's difficult for malware to infiltrate. This improves all-round security by allowing sensitive device operations to be verified by the security module before they're executed.
More about Google, pixel 2, Smartphones, Mobile, Android
 
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