OnQ Blog

Snapdragon 820 first to receive hardware security certification

Level 2 FIPS 140-2 HW certification earned for stronger cryptographic module authentication

Jun 20, 2016

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

Mobile device security is a hot topic these days as users are doing a lot more with their smartphones in terms of payments, bank transactions, and secure messages. Industries and individuals alike want to know how to keep their data safe and their personal information private when using mobile devices. At Qualcomm Technologies, we’re dedicated to working with all users to help protect their data, which is why we’re excited to announce that our flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor is the first mobile system-on-a-chip (SoC) to receive FIPS 140-2 Level 2 HW certification, a feat any military or government affiliate would likely salute.

What is FIPS 140-2 Level 2?

Cryptographic modules are responsible for cryptographic functions, such as encryption, digital signatures, and authentication methods. Information protected by the cryptographic module, including passwords, personal biometric information, mobile payments, and secure communications, is well guarded.

While FIPS 140-2 Level 1 certification focuses on a standard level of compliance, Level 2 concentrates on a tougher authentication implementation and physical protection of the plaintext cryptographic keys and critical security parameters within the module. To meet the requirement, modules need to have tamper-evident seals or pick-resistant locks that are designed to prevent clever hackers from stealing information.

These additional mechanisms are engineered to support an increased level of security that is needed for important and valuable personal data on a device. Data that began with the protection of simple passwords is now expanding to include protection of things like an individual’s fingerprint or iris.

What this means for smartphone manufacturers and buyers

The U.S. FIPS Level 2 HW certification is an important component for OEMs that hope to achieve the global Common Criteria EAL2 and higher certification. Incorporating a module with multiple levels of FIPS 140-2 certification also enables OEMs to qualify for additional business opportunities, including government contracts that need to standardize purchases across numerous branches, automobile contracts that want to enhance overall security practices, and healthcare devices.

The certification will also help customers recognize products based on a higher level of security. And for end users, obtaining advanced security features is as easy as checking to see if a mobile device has the Snapdragon 820 processor.

Qualcomm Snapdragon is a product of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.