Google Created Faster Encryption for Low-End Android Phones and IoT Devices

adiantum logo against a board full of android designsGoogle

Low-resource Android phones and IoT devices lack the processing power to use modern encryption services, making them vulnerable to hacking. This is why Google is introducing Adiantum, an ultra-fast encryption standard for low-resource Android devices.

Popular Android phones, like the Google Pixel or anything from the Samsung Galaxy range, are built around the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). With AES, all information on your phone is encrypted and only verified users can access the data. But many Android phones and smart devices cannot use AES because they do not have enough processing power to quickly encrypt and decrypt information. In addition, they generally do not have built-in security features, such as fingerprint scanners or iris scanners. This leaves low-powered Android devices, including smart watches and IOT products, very easy to compromise.

As you may know, Android is the main operating system of developing countries. It is free to use, it already has a lot of apps and it is supported on low-end devices. Google has even made a point of creating the Android Go OS, which is optimized for low-resource smartphones. This is really a good thing, because cheap phones have brought the Internet to many developing countries. But in some ways, this has accelerated a security problem.

Manufacturers are able to put Android OS on low-resource devices like cheap phones, cheap tablets, smart watches, smart TVs and smart home products. Here's the problem: most of these devices are not strong enough to work with the advanced encryption standard. This leaves devices with low resources vulnerable to hacking.

Meet Adiantum

Obviously, Google has two choices in this situation: ignore the problem or find a way to encrypt inexpensive devices. Fortunately, the company chose the latter option.

Adiantum is the answer to low-resource AES. It can encrypt and decrypt information five times faster than with AES and requires almost no processing power from the phone or smart device. This new encryption standard is expected to increase the security of inexpensive phones in developing countries and also make your smart home products less vulnerable to hacking.

bar graph showing that Adiantum is 5 times faster than AESGoogle

Google has spent a lot of time developing Adiantum, and even if it hasn't spent a lot of time in the real world, the developers are convinced that Adiantum is the one future of low-resource IoT phones and devices.

Google’s security team is smart about focusing so much on IoT devices. Right now, the public is very concerned about the safety of smart home products, and although all phones are ultimately powerful enough to use AES, we cannot say the same for IoT devices. Smart home products are getting smaller and smarter. So we're going to need security solutions like Adiantum to keep all of our information encrypted without using too much processing power. To learn more about Adiantum, including all the technical details, click on the link below.

Source: Google Security Blog

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