When Google revealed the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL earlier this month, it also brought up the Titan M security chip, which is built into the new phones. While we did know that this chip is meant to make the new devices more secure, Google has now revealed details on exactly how the Titan M chip works in a new blog post.
Stating that security has always been a top priority for Pixel devices, from regular security patches to frequent system updates, the blog post mentions what goes into the Titan M chip. This enterprise-grade security chip is a mobile version of the Titan security chip that is used in Google’s data centers, and focuses on mobile security for smartphones.
The chip is integrated into the bootloader of the phone, so it participates in verifying that the Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL is running the right version of Android, by storing the last known safe version of Android for the device. This prevents attackers from forcing the phone to roll back to a previous, less secure version of Android, and even unlock the bootloader without the user’s knowledge. The chip is also built into the authentication passcode process, preventing too many unsuccessful login attempts when it senses that an attacker may be trying to gain access to the phone.
Additionally, the Titan M aids in securing transactions in supported third-party apps, as Android 9 Pie enables apps to take advantage of StrongBox KeyStore APIs to generate and store private keys on the Titan M chip. These security advantages will help in secure transactions on smartphones, including funds transfers and e-voting, to name a few. Finally, insider attack resistance prevents attackers from gaining access to the Titan M chip itself, through various security measures.
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