Last updated May 2023
A Secure Element (SE) is a microprocessor chip, which can store sensitive data and run secure apps such as payment. It can be embedded in any mobile device.
It acts as a vault, protecting what is inside the SE (applications and data) from malware attacks that are typical in the host (i.e. the device operating system).
Secure Elements handle all sorts of applications that are vital to our modern digital lives:
Instead of user name and password, access to an online service may be protected by a strong authentication mechanism, based on credentials stored and processed in the secure element. So to log into a VPN or your email, a Secure Element could be involved in the background to ensure you are who you say you are.
Applications may use the SE to digitally sign a document or any data with a key stored in this secure element. This key helps the secure element unlock encrypted data so it can be read. Again, this is used to prove you are you. So your email program could use connect to the Secure Element to digitally “sign” emails you send, or a government web application could access it when you are using their digital services.
Here, the Secure Element securely stores card/cardholder data and manages the reading of encrypted data. During a payment transaction, it acts like a contactless payment card using industry standard technology to help authorize a transaction. The Secure Element could either be embedded in the phone or embedded in your SIM card.
It is crucial that SE-embedded devices are secure throughout their lifecycle. That is why Secure Elements need to have an end-to-end security strategy. It is no use developing a robust security solution for a device which becomes obsolete after a period of use. This is why
Secured Elements can be updated continuously to counter new threats.
Interested to learn more? Carry on reading our eSIM portfolio