A new leak about the expected Gionee M6 smart phone recently revealed that Gionee has embedded an encryption chip inside the smartphone. The company had claimed that the encryption chip makes the device one of the safest phones ever.
Encryption chips in smartphones are not new, Apple had always embedded encryption chip in its iPhone brands which make it difficult to access the phone’s data in situations of theft or loss of the device. Apple has its own hardware security measure called the Secure Enclave, which is a separate CPU within the A7 chips that runs some cryptographic operations and handles the biometric data for iPhones.
Apart from the Apple approach, most smartphones nowadays pack one or more forms of encryption security but mainly through software. Those that are hardware-related, like Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner, still don’t protect the data once you get past the lock screen.
Gionee says the M6 which is billed to be launched July 26, uses an encryption chip to better secure a user’s personal data on the device. Even though the company is yet to release the detailed specs of the smartphone, but the idea behind hardware encryption like what it is touted to feature, is that it is within the device and reduces the route of potential attack the smartphone could face.
The Gionee M6 began as a rumor on Chinese social network website Weibo, when image renderings of the device were leaked to the site. However, Gionee’s vice president Yu Lei confirmed the rumors shortly after.
“As far as we know, the hardware encryption operation is completed in the security encryption chip, so it is equivalent to a black box, and the process won’t be hijacked. Whereas software encryption takes place at the operating system, so it has more risks to be peaked or hijacked,” according to a press release announcing the device.
The public battle between Apple and the FBI in the US over decryption of smartphones owned by suspected terrorists’, the debate about mobile phone security has gathered huge momentum presently.
The focus seems to have shifted though, to the need for more efficient forms of protection against cyber theft and other security threat posed by our everyday use of smartphones both online and offline. So much so, that despite existing security features on both Apple iOS and Google’s Android OS, the duo recently adopted further steps in ensuring a water tight protection on devices running either operating system.
Google recently integrated Samsung Knox, new update system, and use of ARM’s TrustZone to increase the security capabilities of Android phones.
Apart from Apple and Google, a host of ultra-secure Android devices have hit the market recently, including the Boeing Black, the Turing Phone, the Solarin smartphone, and Silent Circle’s Blackphone. But most of these are software based encryption which is not as strong as the hardware based encryption which Gionee is saying the M6 sports.
Gionee claims the M6 would be the “safest smartphone ever” — a bold statement to say the least. For all we know, it could be a marketing strategy, a media hype or something. The device is billed to be launched on July 26, and we have to wait until then, before the encryption feature can be subjected to close scrutiny to see if its what Gionee touts it to be.
However, if the encryption feature is able to live up to its billing, it could set the stage for a tsunami of better secured Android phones.