adiantum

Google has unveiled a new form of encryption called Adiantum, which is specifically designed to encrypt data on budget smartphones and other devices that come with low processing power.

Encryption is essential for security and privacy but it always comes with a trade-off in the form of speed as it can take a toll on the system resources. This issue can slow down a device to an extent where the device becomes practically unusable.

Higher-end phones usually come with specialized hardware to handle encryption which uses the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). However, budget devices running on less expensive SoCs cannot use AES efficiently, and Adiantum is meant to fix that.

Adiantum is named after a fern which represents “sincerity and discretion.” It will run on devices that don’t use the latest ARMv8 processors and therefore don’t support AES.

Google writes in its blog post:

“Adiantum allows us to use the ChaCha stream cipher in a length-preserving mode, by adapting ideas from AES-based proposals for length-preserving encryption such as HCTR and HCH. On ARM Cortex-A7, Adiantum encryption and decryption on 4096-byte sectors is about 10.6 cycles per byte, around 5x faster than AES-256-XTS.”

With Adiantum, Google hopes to make the next generation of devices more secure than its predecessors and allow anyone who is coming online for the time, to do so safely. It will also help in securing other internet-connected devices like smartwatches, TVs, and medical tech in the future.

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