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Hardware-based Technology More Effective in Securing Mobile Devices

By CIOReview | Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Improving operational efficiency, optimizing budget expenditure, and enabling newer services for both, their workforce and public have lately been a priority for government agencies, and they are constantly in the quest for latest technologies that could facilitate the same.

Although traditional consumer devices like smartphones frequently play a major role in achieving these goals, agencies need to overcome some challenges in meeting them when it is about using mobile devices. Since security is based on software protecting software, mobile software protection can never be as reliable as hardware-backed protection.

Since Apple controls most components of its devices, iOS app developers in the risk management teams struggle to offer flexible solutions and to leverage true hardware-based security. At the same time, Android developers often lack knowledge on available and accessible hardware security.

Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) is a potential solution providing hardware-based mobile security and yet doesn’t increase the device’s bill of materials. A secure area of the main processor is TEE, is leveraged by services that are being delivered to enterprises in financial technology space and government agencies in the US and Europe.

An operating environment which resides on a device’s main application processor, the TEE offers hardware isolation from Android, safeguarding application’s logic and data. The TEE typically continues to provide security to such applications even on devices that are rooted or infected with malware. Alongside, it provides additional access to the touchscreen or the fingerprint sensor eliminating any malware to steal credentials or mimicking the user interaction.

A huge amount of value can be derived utilizing the TEE due to its ease of access on Android and its unique security features; it also enables government agencies to switch to a more open environment that offers better control of deployed solutions and greater flexibility. Although TEE remains unknown to several federal agencies, the situation is starting to change with governments being encouraged to migrate to hardware-backed security.