INTRODUCING ADIANTUM. No, don't stop reading botany buffs - we're not talking about the maidenhair fern of the same name, but a new kind of encryption that Google has finally decided is ready for public consumption.
Why do we need a new kind of encryption? Well, if you've got a top-of-the-range smartphone, you probably don't. But budget handsets popular in emerging markets often don't have the grunt to encrypt data, meaning they just don't bother. Encryption has been a requirement since Android 6.0, but budget phones with slow-poke processors and limited RAM get a pass because it just hasn't been possible - until now.
Adiantum is designed to run on handsets that don't have the specialised hardware to encrypt data locally. "Adiantum is designed to run efficiently without that specialised hardware," wrote Google's Eugene Liderman on a blog post introducing Adiantum. "This 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.
"Just like you wouldn't buy a phone without text messaging, there will be no excuse for compromising security for the sake of device performance. Everyone should have privacy and security, regardless of their phone's price tag."
But this is about more than just making sure cheap smartphones have data security built in - any low-power Linux-based device can benefit. That may seem overkill for a smartwatch, but pretty important for connected medical devices.
If you're a developer, you may already be familiar with Adiantum - its been available as an open-source product on Github for a few months. But the fact that Google is now openly highlighting it on its company blog suggests it's ready for its moment in the sun. Budget phone users will no longer have to choose between encryption and a usable device. µ
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