OnQ Blog

Snapdragon 835: Focus on robust mobile security

Feb 16, 2017

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

There’s no denying that our mobile devices have made our lives easier and more convenient. They’re where we’ve chosen to consolidate much of our lives — both personal and professional. It’s all in there: precious photos, not-to-be-missed meetings and events, private memos, confidential financial information. So it’s no surprise, then, that the prospect of losing that device, or having someone get their hands on what’s stored inside, sends chills down our spines.

As power users, we recognize the importance of good mobile security, but even we can take it for granted. We trust that manufacturers will integrate sufficiently powerful security mechanisms capable of keeping our information safe if our phone is lost, stolen, or hacked. But with our increasing reliance on our devices, ‘sufficiently powerful’ is no longer good enough.

That’s why, when developing the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, engineers made sure to approach security from the bottom up. With an integrated approach that pairs the security features built natively into the hardware with advanced software, user identification, and attestation capabilities, the Snapdragon 835 is crafted to deliver truly remarkable protection.

Security from the bottom up

Built into the Snapdragon 835 is Qualcomm Haven, an advanced security framework designed to protect users’ data from the inside out. Developed with mobile payments and banking in mind, Qualcomm Haven layers stringent security features atop one another using a combination of hardware, software, and biometric sensors. The result is a device engineered to defend against malware, identity replication, or theft.

At the hardware level, engineers worked to ensure that the chip’s awesome tech — from its DSP and front- and rear-facing cameras to the CPU — contributes to a more complete security platform. Take fingerprint identification, which has quickly become one of the primary user identification methods for mobile devices. It’s quick, easy to use, and proprietary to the user. This hasn’t deterred determined hackers, however. For this reason, Qualcomm Haven manages the data on the processor itself, requiring the authenticator code to run in a security-rich environment — a two-step process that’s used to thwart threats from malicious, remote attackers.

Authentication through biometrics

It’s not just how the hardware is used. The Snapdragon 835’s powerful processing capabilities allow OEMs to develop more rigorous security applications. This includes the use of a biometric sensor, which are increasingly being used in authentication.

Iris scanning, for example, is highly effective because the iris has greater entropy, making it more unique to an individual than a fingerprint for identification purposes. This added layer of authentication requires a secure second camera with an IR sensor, which is supported in the Snapdragon 835. Also, the Snapdragon 835’s secure camera implementation is designed to isolate the biometric data — in this case an iris scan — within the processor hardware making it even more difficult for rogue software or threats to access it.

Device identification

Qualcomm Technologies’ brand of robust security requires more than just lockdown hardware. Much of the security features supported by the Snapdragon 835 comes from its powerful software. This includes support for device attestation, an advanced set of algorithms and processes that can validate the device.

At its most abstract level, device attestation uses a secure boot, app protection, and data tokens to create a powerful link between the software, operating system, and underlying hardware, helping ensure the threat of remote access or duplication is reduced. It runs at different levels, performing integrity checks on a wide array of data, including device ID, software versions, location and time, and app and OS behavior.

By incorporating authentication and protection at every level — for the device and its owner — power users can more safely and intuitively enjoy the awesome every day and next-gen experiences this powerful processor can deliver.

Stay tuned for the next in-depth tech explainer on the Snapdragon 835 processor’s key components — machine learning — and read up on our previous deep dives into battery, immersive AR and VR, photos and video, and connectivity experiences, all of which combine with these security enhancements to make the Snapdragon 835 processor groundbreaking.

And sign up for our Snapdragon newsletter to be among the first to get the latest Snapdragon news.

Qualcomm Snapdragon and Qualcomm Haven are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

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Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.

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