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Google’s Adiantum brings fast encryption to cheap smartphones

Published Feb 8th, 2019 9:36AM EST
Google Adiantum Encryption
Image: Valeriya Zankovych

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Adiantum is no longer just the name of a genus of ferns, as Google used it for its brand new security product. It’s a new encryption solution that targets devices with hardware that would otherwise be unable to support typical encryption standards. Google’s Adiantum was created for cheaper smartphones, wearables, and other smart devices that connect to the internet.

As Google explains in its blog post, encryption does have a huge drawback: it can slow down older devices or low-cost devices that are not equipped with powerful processors. However, that doesn’t mean entry-level phones and other smart gadgets should be without the ability to secure user data, and Adiantum is here to fix that. The goal of the new product is to offer device makers a new way of encrypting data without hindering the performance of cheaper devices.

Adiantum is a new form of encryption that we built specifically to run on phones and smart devices that don’t have the specialized hardware to use current methods to encrypt locally stored data efficiently. Adiantum is designed to run efficiently without that specialized hardware. 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 smartwatches to Internet-connected medical devices to encrypt sensitive data.

A more in-depth explanation of Google’s new encryption tech says that Adiantum is meant to run on Android Go devices, smartwatches, Smart TVs, and other gadgets that use low-end processors that don’t support the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption standard.

On these devices, AES is so slow that it would result in a poor user experience; apps would take much longer to launch, and the device would generally feel much slower. So while storage encryption has been required for most devices since Android 6.0 in 2015, devices with poor AES performance (50 MiB/s and below) are exempt. We’ve been working to change this because we believe that encryption is for everyone.

Going forward, it’s likely that Android Go devices will make use of Google’s new encryption tool out of the box.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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