New Google On-the-fly Encryption Ultra Fast, Secure

John Lister's picture

Google has developed a new type of encryption that could run on any Android device. It means added security even for the most basic phones, smart watches and smart TVs.

The encryption in question isn't for transmitting data, but rather for data stored on a device. The data is controlled by unlock methods such as passwords, pin codes and fingerprints. The idea is that if somebody gets hold of a device and doesn't have the correct login credentials, they can't simply extract files from the device and access personal data.

At the moment Android devices with encryption use Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). It's a widely used system that's approved for federal government use and also in an adapted form for the National Security Agency (NSA).

Current Encryption Can Be Slow

The problem is that this type of encryption involves a lot of processing power when used for storing data. On less powerful Android devices, using AES would be painfully slow, resulting in significant delays when launching or using an application because each file read and written to must be decrypted or re-encrypted. (Source:

The same is true for users using BitLocker in Microsoft Windows. If encryption is enabled on a device (especially the C drive containing the operating system), it slows things down considerably. This is especially true for older or underpowered PCs and laptops.

Related: When to Encrypt your Hard Drive, and When not to in Windows.

Google's answer to this problem is a new encryption mode dubbed "Adiantum." It overcomes one of the main technical challenges with encrypting and decrypting data: to convert an unencrypted block of data to an encrypted one (or vice versa), you need slightly more than 'one block' worth of space to carry out the change. This makes it much harder to store data efficiently.

In very simplified terms, Adiantum works in a way that means the entire block can be encrypted or decrypted simultaneously without needing any extra space.

All Manner of Gadgets More Secure

According to Google, the result is that a device running a relatively old and underpowered processor can encrypt or decrypt data five times quick with Adiantum than with existing technologies. (Source:

The idea is that virtually any Android device could have on-board data encryption in the future. That would be most important with very basic smartphones running a system named Android Go, which is a stripped-down version of the newly released Android Oreo operating system. It's comprised of three optimized areas including the operating system itself, the Google Play store, and Google apps that have been specially revised to run on lower spec systems.

Even with Android Go, Adiantum could be the key to making smartphones affordable in countries with large populations, but relatively low incomes.

It could also mean other Android devices such as smart watches could be encrypted. That in turn could mean improved functionality without being restricted by security concerns.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you give much though to whether data on your portable devices is encrypted? Is this worthwhile for non-phone devices such as watches? Do you trust an encryption standard developed by Google?

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Focused100's picture

Up til now it's been a losing battle with the average user up against a determined hacker.
Remember the days of pimple faced teenagers doing this for fun is long over. When (not if) we get hacked we will lose big time. so bring on Adiantum asap.

Jim-in-kansas's picture

Encryption and data security is of GREAT importance in today's world.

My only concern would be are the guys working all day building this the same ones at night working in the dark web to ensure they have a steady job during the day?

James Douglass
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