Google rolls out cryptography-based encryption for entry-level phones

Google rolls out cryptography-based encryption for entry-level phones
Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Reuters
8 Feb, 2019

Technology giant Google has developed a new cryptography-based encryption solution for entry-level smartphones running its Android operating system to help safeguard data.

The new form of encryption, Adiantum, can run on devices that do not have the specialised hardware to adopt existing methods of encrypting locally-stored data efficiently, Google said in a blog post.

Typically, most mid- to flagship-level smartphones use Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) that is supported via the ARMv8 Cryptography Extensions which can run on high-end processors.

But low-cost devices come with processors such as the ARM Cortex-A7 that do not have hardware support for AES, Paul Crowley and Eric Biggers of Google's Android Security & Privacy Team said.

Interestingly, Google itself runs an entry-level smartphone programme called Android Go under which it partners with local handset makers. The programme is also active in India and is seen as one of the key tools to execute the internet giant's strategy of acquiring the next set of new users from the country.

"This (Adiantum) 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," said Eugene Liderman, director of Google's Android Security team.

He added that Adiantum will also help secure the connected world by allowing everything from smartwatches to internet-connected medical devices to encrypt sensitive data. 

AES, or rather storage encryption, has been around since the launch of Android 6 or Marshmallow in 2015.

Google further said that Android device manufacturers can enable Adiantum for either full-disk or file-based encryption on devices which show lesser AES performance, starting with Android Pie.