Google has launched a new encryption mode called Adiantum to help protect user data in the event that a device falls into the wrong hands.
Since the release of Android 6.0 in 2015, the company has required device manufacturers to include storage encryption on most smartphones using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). This is why most new Android devices have hardware support for AES using the ARMv8 Cryptography Extension.
However, there are more than 2bn monthly active Android devices and many of them use low-end processors such as the ARM Cortex-A7 that do not offer hardware support for AES.
On these devices AES would impact performance to the point that they would feel sluggish and distract from the user experience which is why Google created Adiantum.
The company’s new form of encryption was built from the ground up to run efficiently on phones and other smart devices without specialized hardware.
Google’s launch of Adiantum coincides with Safer Internet Day and in a blog post announcing the release the company explained its decision to bring encryption to low-end smartphones and other connected devices, saying:
“This will make the next generation of devices more secure than their predecessors, and allow the next billion people coming online for the first time to do so safely. Adiantum will help secure our connected world by allowing everything from smart watches to internet-connected medical devices to encrypt sensitive data.”
With the release of Adiantum, Google is democratizing encryption for all devices in the hope that it will become a standard feature that will make device manufacturers think twice before compromising security for the sake of device performance.