Adiantum is Google’s new mode of storage encryption for low-power devices like Android Go phones, smartwatches, and so on. Because budget devices like these use less expensive SoCs that lack the capacity to use Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) efficiently. Higher-end phones, on the other hand, have specialized hardware to handle encryption using AES.
Google intends to run Adiantum on devices that don’t leverage the latest ARMv8 processors. It is specifically targeting processors based on ARM Cortex-A7 featuring in devices smartwatches and TVs, as they do not feature the specialized hardware. Also, AES on these entry-level devices would degrade its performance by slowing down the processes and tasks resulting in poor user experience.
Google decides to grant these less-powerful devices a share in the security that encryption offers by unveiling Adiantum – Google’s new encryption mode that uses ChaCha stream cipher which is intended to perform way better on earlier chipsets like the Cortex A7. Adiantum is not just difficult to crack but is also 5 times faster than AES on chips that miss the hardware acceleration support for encryption. Furthermore, the Adiantum process does not increase or decrease the size of the payload, meaning – you don’t have to set aside too many special blocks for encryption metadata and other extras.
“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,” Google said.
Android Pie is required for Adiantum. However, it will be part of the platform for Android Q, Google confirmed.