Android Smartphone Brands Follow Apple’s Secure Enclave Model for Enhanced Security

Apple A12 Bionic

Apple has been at the forefront of smartphone innovation, especially when it comes to data security and user privacy. Apparently, various Android smartphone brands follow the Cupertino-based firm’s Secure Enclave model for enhanced security on their devices.

According to a new report from Counterpoint Research, various Android smartphone OEMs, including Huawei, LG, OnePlus, OPPO, Sony, Vivo, and Xiaomi model their hardware security after Apple’s Secure Enclave feature. In a way, Secure Enclave has managed to set a precedent for Android smartphones and improved security.

Secure Enclave is a hardware component inside Apple’s A-series chipsets and it carries out all the cryptographic operations related to user authentication. It stores data related to passwords, Face ID, and Touch ID. The information from Secure Enclave can’t be extracted even if the iOS kernel is hacked. The co-processor has been a part of Apple’s processors since the release of the iPhone 5s and its A7 chipset.

Even iOS can’t access the data stored inside Secure Enclave. Whenever a password or other forms of user authentication mechanisms are used, iOS passes on that information to Secure Enclave, which then checks it and iOS just gets an OK or not. Many smartphone brands get a similar hardware component on their devices via Qualcomm chipsets’ SPU (Secure Processing Unit).

Global Smartphone Sales with Embedded Hardware Security by SoC Vendor 2019 Counterpoint Research

Even Google and Samsung have hardware-based security solutions on their smartphones. However, they work in a different way but to the same end. Google uses TPM (Trust Platform Module) and it is a miniature version of HSM (Hardware Security Module) that is soldered onto the PCBs of Pixel smartphones.

Samsung’s newer smartphones that use either the Exynos 9820 or the Exynos 9825 chipsets get access to a similar feature in the form of PUF (Physically Unclonable Function). It is a unique identifier that offers functionality that’s similar to that of Apple’s Secure Enclave feature. Apple has been using a similar feature in its iPads and Macs over the past few years.

Global Smartphone Sales with Embedded Hardware Security Market Share by Volume in 2018 vs 2019
[Source: Counterpoint Research]