Skip to content

Secure Enclave – Android following Apple’s security lead

  • by

A recent research study revealed that many of the biggest Android smartphone manufacturers have followed Apple’s example by including some kind of “Secure Enclave” to protect sensitive information on-device.

The Secure Enclave is an encrypted part of the iPhone’s A-series processor which handles sensitive data like your device passcode and biometric scans. iOS has no way to directly view or edit the information it stores – when you log in or authorize a payment iOS simply asks the chip if the passcode or biometric scan is a match. The Secure Enclave replies with a simple yes or no, all the while handling the sensitive stuff.

You can think of it like a safe, and though Apple has included this safe for several years now, it seems much of the Android world is only recently catching up. The report shows that the number of devices with “embedded hardware security” increased 39% over the course of 2019, meaning 89% of all shipments now include some form of hardware element along the lines of Apple’s Secure Enclave.

Meanwhile, Samsung and Google use a slightly different technique to achieve the same result.

Apple is often accused of “not innovating,” and while it’s true that it often waits for a technology to mature before bringing it to market – meaning it’s rarely the first to try an idea – it seems this is one case in which Apple has blazed a secure trail for others to follow.

You can argue about who did what first, who copied who, until the cows come home – but ultimately this kind of development is great for the industry. Mass adoption of this kind of security tech means more people get protected, no matter which brand they favor or how much money they have to spend on a phone.