Samsung’s Galaxy S20 has a standalone security chip

Future Samsung mobile devices will get one, too.

Our review of Samsung’s S20 Ultra found its camera exhibiting auto-focus problems that Samsung’s since suggested it’ll fix via a software update before the phone goes on sale on March 6. But, there’s something else about the S20 range that’s worth paying attention to. Namely, Samsung’s new, standalone security chip called the Secure Element.

“While current smartphones or tablets already have strong security in place to fend off possible tampering, the security-dedicated chip adds extra countermeasures to defend against possible attacks such as reverse engineering, power glitches and laser attacks,” Samsung’s said in a release announcing Secure Element claims. Wait... laser attacks?

Protects against laser attacks — That’s right, laser attacks. Wired reported last November that researchers had discovered it’s possible to hack smart speakers and mobile phones with smart assistants built into them by using lasers to mimic audio. Samsung says its Secure Element solution is immune to such attacks.

The solution consists of a security chip (S3K250AF) that’s separate from the rest of the device’s memory. That means it’s ideal for storing “confidential and cryptographic data such as pin numbers, passwords and even crypto-currency credentials.” It’s available in all three Galaxy S20 devices that launch this month and will be built into Samsung’s future flagship devices.

Remember, though, even Samsung’s Secure Element can’t save you from a foolish or frequently-reused password, though.