Google introduces new encryption to ensure low-end Android devices are secure

Google wants to ensure that all Android devices have encryption. (Google)

Google unveiled a new type of encryption called Adiantum to make sure all Android devices are secure, including older devices.

Android offers storage encryption using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). And most new Android devices provide AES via Arm’s version 8 processor cryptography extensions. However, Android runs on a wide range of devices. This includes not just the latest flagship and mid-range phones but also entry-level Android Go phones sold primarily in developing countries, along with smart watches and TVs.

In order to offer low-cost options, device manufacturers sometimes use low-end processors such as the Arm Cortex-A7, which does not have hardware support for AES. On these devices, Google says that AES is so slow that it would result in poor user experience; apps would take much longer to launch, and the device would generally feel much slower.

Mobile World Congress 2019

Attend the 2-Day Executive 5G Panel Series

FierceWireless is returning to Barcelona, Spain, during Mobile World Congress 2019 with a two-day Executive 5G Panel Series at the Fira Congress Hotel, conveniently located across the street from the MWC Convention Center. The panel events will take place on Feb. 25-26 and will cover 5G and The Fixed Wireless Access Opportunity, Taking 5G Indoors, and Making 5G Ubiquitous. Attendees will have the opportunity to network and hear from 5G leaders including Verizon, Vodafone, Orange, Sprint, NTT Docomo, Boingo Wireless, Qualcomm, and more over the course of two days.

Secure your spot at the event today! Now is your chance to join fellow industry professionals for networking and education. Registration information and the schedule can be found on the website here.

Although 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.

In order to make sure all devices are secure, Google designed a new encryption mode that it calls Adiantum. It explains the security technology in detail in a Google blog post.

Android device manufacturers can enable Adiantum for either full-disk or file-based encryption on devices with AES performance less than 50 MiB/sec and launching with Android Pie.

Where hardware support for AES exists, it must still be used. Adiantum will be part of the Android platform when Google rolls out Android Q. And Google intends to update its Android Compatibility Definition Document to require that all new Android devices be encrypted using one of the allowed encryption algorithms.

Read more on