Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 keeps your next phone more secure than ever

Qualcomm has announced the processor that will power many of next year’s Android flagship smartphones, the Snapdragon 845, and it boasts better performance, an improved graphics processor, helps phones process artificial intelligence on-device, and more. But there’s one feature that, in a year filled with major data breaches, could prove more important  — the addition of the “Secure Processing Unit.”

Apple’s iPhone has traditionally held security as an edge over Android smartphones. We hear about a new Android malware or Google Play vulnerability every single week. That’s not to say the iPhone is perfect — but Android’s fragmented ecosystem, where manufacturers and carriers don’t update phones to the most recent version of Android, presents serious security complications.

We hear about a new Android malware or Google Play vulnerability every single week.

That’s what Qualcomm is trying to change. The Secure Processing Unit (SPU) is an isolated security-focused processor embedded in the Snapdragon 845 system-on-a-chip. It’s built specifically to protect data that’s most important to you. Hacks and data breaches are becoming increasingly common — even biometric data could be stolen, like the fingerprint you use to get into your phone, or face data if your phone uses facial recognition technology like the iPhone X.

With the introduction of the SPU, Qualcomm wants to store all that biometric data in the vault-like environment, which is similar to what Apple does with the Secure Enclave on its A11 Fusion processor in the iPhone. The Secure Enclave Processor boasts its own microprocessor and encrypted memory, and it handles ultra-sensitive data like Face ID data and decryption keys. The SPU stores similar sensitive data, and it’s kept separate from other components on the Snapdragon 845 to prevent hacking.

It’s not just protecting biometric data, but also payment information, SIM information, and more. Eventually, it could help protect everything you do on your Android phone. When you take a photo on a phone with the Snapdragon 845, for example, the SPU will create an encrypted unique key that’s stored in the same place for decryption. It’s an added layer of protection, and developers like Facebook could use the SPU to generate keys for things like Facebook Messenger messages with your friends and family — all on-device.

snapdragon 845 security features

The SPU boasts its own little processor, its own memory, and it is even power-separated from other components on the chip, so it never needs to rely on other less secure components of the Snapdragon 845. Everything it does is in a locked, safe environment.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about the Snapdragon 845 SPU, but Qualcomm’s Product Director, Gary Brotman, said that’s a good thing — the less we know about it, the less the bad guys know about it. Will it make for a totally secure and hack-free phone? Probably not — but it’s a step in the right direction for Android devices, and most importantly, for consumers.

Computing

Smishing sounds funny, but it’s a serious threat to your phone’s security

We all know phishing is a huge security problem, but most people still believe it’s a problem limited to email. According to new reports, however, phishing scams are attempting to exploit your trust in text messages.
Web

Data stolen from HealthCare.gov includes partial SSNs and immigration status

Around 75,000 users have had their user data stolen from government site healthcare.gov, including information on their immigration status, whether they were pregnant, and partial social security numbers.
Product Review

August and Yale’s first lock brings looks, smarts, and a split personality

The first fruit of Yale’s acquisition of August, this enhanced Assure Lock SL Touchscreen Deadbolt is a definite upgrade on last year’s model, adding style and versatility to home security. Read our full review to learn more.
Deals

Save $210 on this Arlo Pro indoor and outdoor security system

If you are looking for a do-it-yourself security system for your home, the products made by Arlo Pro are among our recommended favorites. Walmart is currently selling the first-generation Arlo Pro security camera system by Netgear.
Mobile

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.
Computing

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.
Social Media

Twitter boss hints that an edit button for tweets may finally be on its way

Twitter has been talking for years about launching an edit button for tweets, but it still hasn't landed. This week, company boss Jack Dorsey addressed the matter again, describing a quick-edit button as "achievable."
Mobile

Lyft’s new rewards program promises ride discounts and comfier cars

If you're always hopping in and out of a Lyft car, then you'll be pleased to hear that the ridesharing service is about to launch a rewards program. Perks include discounts on future trips and upgrades to comfier cars.
Mobile

The world’s first smartglasses showrooms open in Brooklyn and Toronto

Canadian startup North is hoping smartglasses will be the next big wearable. After announcing its new Focals smartglasses in October, the company opened product showrooms in Brooklyn and Toronto.
Deals

Here are the best Apple Watch and Fitbit Versa deals for Black Friday

Apple products are the most sought-after products for Black Friday, the leaked preview ads show what discounts retailers will have for the Apple Watch Series 3 and other smartwatches, such as the Fitbit Versa, this holiday season.
Deals

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.
Mobile

Master your new Nokia 7.1 with our favorite tips and tricks

At $350, the Nokia 7.1 is a nearly perfect budget phone. It has a gorgeous body, good hardware, and a capable camera. Recently purchased the Nokia 7.1? Here are a few of our favorite tips and tricks to get you started with your new phone.
Photography

Get up close and personal with this telephoto lens for your phone

Moment is replacing its aging 60mm telephoto lens with a new 58mm tele lens, redesigned from the ground up for the latest iPhone, Pixel, and Galaxy phones. Mount it onto the phone via a case and get closer with 2x optical zoom.
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10 could nix the notch in favor of a "punch hole" cutout

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.