Google Details New Pixel 2 Security Module
The goal of the new security module, Google said, is to prevent attackers from decrypting your data without knowing your password by reinforcing the lock screen against attacks.
- By Jessica Davis
- Nov 16, 2017
In a blog post Tuesday, Google detailed the new tamper-resistant security module built into its new Pixel 2 smartphone. The goal of the new security module, Google said, is to prevent attackers from decrypting your data without knowing your password by reinforcing the lock screen against attacks.
The Pixel 2’s new tamper-resistant security module comes in the form of a chip, separate from the System on a Chip. The chip includes its own flash, RAM, processing unit and other resources inside a single package. In its post about the Pixel 2 security module, Google emphasized the following three features:
- Lock-screen protection: Android uses your lock-screen password to derive the key that is used to encrypt your data. With this new chip, Google said, “the passcode verification takes place in this secured hardware module instead of the software. Since the dedicated chip is responsible only for this function, it will be difficult for the hackers to employ software-based brute force techniques.”
- Protection against physical attacks: Because it’s self-contained, the security module chip fully controls its own execution and can resist external tamper attempts. “The package is resistant to physical penetration and designed to resist many side channel attacks, including power analysis, timing analysis, and electromagnetic sniffing,” Google said. “The hardware is also resilient against many physical fault injection techniques including attempts to run outside normal operating conditions, such as wrong voltage, wrong clock speed, or wrong temperature.”
- Protection against software attacks: The module also helps protect against software-only attacks because of its very small attack surface, which is attributed to its being a dedicated hardware used for few, specific functions. According to Google, “with passcode verification happening in the security module, even in the event of a full compromise elsewhere, the attacker cannot derive your disk encryption key without compromising the security module first.” The module, Google adds, is designed in a way that ensures nobody, including Google, can update the passcode verification to a weaker version without first knowing your password.
Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.