Google has introduced full device encryption from Android Gingerbread (2.3.x), but has undergone some dramatic changes since then. On some more sophisticated devices that run the latest versions, it is activated immediately, while on some older or more sophisticated devices, you need to activate it on your own.
Mobile Cryptography: Why Do It?
Encryption stores your phone’s data in an unreadable and seemingly scrambled form. When you enter your PIN, password, or pattern on the lock screen, the phone decrypts the data, making it understandable. If someone does not know the encryption PIN or password, they will not be able to access your data.
Encryption protects sensitive data on your phone. For example, corporations with sensitive business data on company phones will want to use encryption (with a secure locking screen) to help protect this data from corporate espionage. An attacker will not be able to access the data without the encryption key, although there are more advanced cracking methods that enable this.
If you are an average user, you may find that you do not have sensitive data on your phone, but you probably have it. If your phone is stolen, this thief will now have access to your email inbox, home address, and any other number of personal information. Granted, most thieves would also be prevented from accessing their data by a standard unlock code encrypted or not. And most thieves are more interested in cleaning and selling the phone than in accessing your personal data. But it’s never too much to keep these things protected.
Things to consider before encrypting the phone
Most newer Android phones already come with encryption enabled by default. If this is the case for your phone, there is no way to disable encryption. But if you’re using a device that does not have encryption turned on, there are a few things to consider before you turn it on.
Once a device is encrypted, the data needs to be decrypted every time you access it. Therefore, you may see some performance loss when it is turned on, although it is generally not noticeable to most users (especially if you have a powerful phone).
If you enable encryption, the only way to undo the process is by reconfiguring the factory device and starting over from scratch. So make sure you are sure before you start the process.
If you try to encrypt a phone with root , you will have problems. You can encrypt your phone with root, but first you have to unlink it, go through the encryption process, and then redo root.
This does not mean that you can not encrypt your phone – just to get an idea of what the caveats are. For most people, we think the added protection is worth it.
How to encrypt a cell phone?
Before you start, there are some things worth noting:
Encrypting the device may take an hour or more.
Your device’s battery must be at least 80% charged. Android does not start the process any other way.
Your device must be connected throughout the process.
Again, if you are root, be sure to unlock the phone before continuing.
Basically, make sure you have plenty of time and battery before you start the process. If you interfere with the process or finalize it before finishing, you will probably lose all of your data. Once the process is started, it is best to leave the device alone and allow it to do everything.
With all the warnings given, you’re ready to encrypt your device.
Start by going to the Settings menu and tapping “Security” again, remembering that the text may be slightly different. If your device is already encrypted , it will be displayed here. Some devices also allow the contents of the SD card to be encrypted, but by default Android only encrypts the onboard storage.
If the device is not encrypted, you can start the process by tapping the “Encrypt phone” option.
The next screen will prompt you to know what to expect when the process is complete, most of which we discussed earlier in this article. If you are ready to proceed, click the “Encrypt Phone” button.
One more warning will come up, telling you not to interrupt the process. If you still have no fear, another push on the “Encrypt the phone” button will do the trick.
The phone restarts and starts the encryption process. A progress bar and estimated time to completion will appear, which should at least give you an idea of how long you’ll be without your beloved device. Just wait, everything will be fine soon. Can you do that. You are strong.
When you’re done, your phone will restart and you’ll be back in business. If you set a password, PIN, or lock screen pattern, you’ll need to place it now so that the device completes the boot process.
If you have not set up a PIN or password , this is a good time for this. Enter the Settings menu -> Security of your device. From there, select the “Screen lock” option (remember that the text may be slightly different for Android devices).
Choose Default, PIN, or Password to set your security. You will be asked if you want to require the PIN, password, or default at startup. This is up to you, but we recommend choosing yes as this increases the security of your device.
Even with a fingerprint reader, you can not use a fingerprint to unlock a device on the first startup. You will need to enter your password, PIN, or pattern. After the device has been decrypted with the correct security unlock method, the fingerprint reader can be used to unlock the screen by moving forward.
From now on, your device will be encrypted, but if you want to disable it, you can do so by performing a factory reset. If you have a newer device with encryption turned on, there is no way to remove the encryption mentioned, not even with a factory reset.
Any questions? Leave your comments in your comments and we will respond!