The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 has smart card-equivalent security certification

Qualcomm wants to make sure Snapdragon 855-powered smartphones are a little more secure. The company has announced that the Snapdragon 855 is the first mobile chipset to get smart card-equivalent security certification.

What does that mean? Well, it basically means that phone manufacturers may no longer need to build phones with external security chips, saving those manufacturers money and ultimately offering the same level of security. The Snapdragon 855’s security is handled by the chip’s Secure Processing Unit, or SPU.

There are already some apps and services that make use of the Snapdragon 855’s Secure Processing Unit. For example, Android StrongBox Keymaster makes use of the hardware. Ultimately, however, the fact that the SPU has this certification could have some real-world implications too. For example, the tech could be used for things like offline mobile payments, transit authentication, and electronic ID, where a copy of your ID is stored securely on your phone. According to Qualcomm, the tech could even be used to store cryptocurrency wallets.

“Completing the EAL-4 Plus security certification is a major milestone in our journey to bring smart card levels of security to our Snapdragon customers and users. Use cases that previously required separate security chips will now be possible fully integrated in Snapdragon 855 powered devices,” said Jesse Seed, senior director, product management at Qualcomm, in a statement. “This certification is a testament to the industry firsts that Snapdragon 855 brings to market and Qualcomm Technologies’ continue leadership in embedded security.”

The tech could have significant implications for the adoption of the eSIM too. eSIMs require the use of advanced security features, and now, because of the fact that manufacturers don’t need to implement an external security chip, they may be more willing to adopt eSIM tech too.

Of course, the Snapdragon 855 is already available in a range of devices. There are plenty of smartphones on the market with the Snapdragon 855 built into it, including flagship-tier phones like the Samsung Galaxy S10, the LG G8 ThinQ, and the OnePlus 7 Pro. The announcement doesn’t mean that Qualcomm is shipping a different version of the Snapdragon 855 — it just means that the existing hardware, that’s already available in any Snapdragon 855-enabled phone, has an SPU that’s certified.

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