Once you encrypt your Android device, you put your personal data in a safe position, locking out all the malicious people out there. Most thieves only steal your phone to sell it.
But you never know when they are interested in more than just the money. In such cases, if your data is not encrypted, you might end up having a long day.
There has been a heated up debate between the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and giant phone makers over the encryption of smartphones, with the tech industry and most users supporting the latter.
This just spells out how necessary it is to maintain your privacy. The process of encrypting your phone, tablet or any other Android device may seem a little complicated. But if you follow the comprehensive and pedagogical procedure below, you will, for sure, thank me later!
What is ‘encrypting an Android device’?
Chiefly, encrypting is the storage of information in formats that are inaccessible without the use of unlocking passwords, patterns or Personal Identification Numbers (PIN).
When, for instance, a company encrypts its data, its sensitive information is kept free of tampering other parties including hackers, rivals or malicious people.
So, when you encrypt Android devices, you safeguard the data- files, pictures or messages- from getting into the hands of the wrong people.
Briefly, encrypting an Android device means the conversion of data on a tablet, smartphone or any other device running on Android in such a way that it is only accessible on the use of a symmetric key (PIN, pattern, password, etc.).
Why encrypt Android device?
Android uses the dm-crypt encryption, which rhymes with that of the Linux core. The Standard Disk Encryption stores data in an unreadable format. The readability is only after activation by the use of a symmetric key. Most smartphone users, though, find it hard to comprehend or appreciate encryption of Android devices.
However, the need to do so should always be guided by the right to privacy. Frankly, everyone has a few things on their phone that they would never like anyone else to see.
Such files need to be encrypted to protect sensitive data. But also, in a world of cyber-crime, it is only wise to have your Android device encoded- be it a tablet, smartphone, or any other appliance.
Also, when third parties try to obtain sensitive data from your Android device, they will indeed have it if it is not encrypted. For instance, though some thieves only need the money earned from selling your Android device, a few could be needing more than just the phone. Encrypting your device helps keep them off your data.
What must you consider before Encrypting Android devices?
Before you decide to encrypt the Android device, it’s important to put in mind a few critical issues. Firstly, save for only a few advanced smartphones, the process is irreversible.
Once you have encrypted your Android device’ data, you will have to restore the factory settings to get your data back. To avoid that catastrophic destruction of your personal files, only encrypt your phone with the stern consideration.
Secondly, when you encrypt Android devices, it will have a toll on their overall performance. Though the reduced speed is nearly unnoticeable, it may be hectic for low-end Android devices.
But also, you will reduce your navigation speed as you must keep entering passwords to access the encrypted files. Other caveats include unrooting your device. Rooting is the process in which you allow some apps to access the Android core- or the operating system.
What you need to encrypt an Android device
The process of encrypting your Android device requires it to have at least 80% of power. If you have any less, the Android platform will automatically reject the command. In advance, this necessitates plugging your phone to escape the chances whereby the power could be less than the threshold.
Secondly, as aforementioned, your phone needs to be unrooted- you can do this temporarily. Thirdly, you will need enough time to encrypt an Android device. The process ordinarily takes about three hours. If you dare meddle with the process, unfortunately, all your data could get lost within a whisker of a minute!
Unless you need to encrypt files on the MicroSD card, your Android device will –by default- encrypt only the data in the phone storage. Most of the files on your MicroSD card are majorly music, videos and others that are not personal or sensitive. But if you still need to encrypt them, then you must consider the following caveats.
- The MicroSD will not be accessible to any other device, but the primary particular Android device used during encryption – the other devices won’t know the key.
- By far, this means you will have lost all data stored on the MicroSD if you happen to reset your phone back to the factory settings.
- The MicroSD card remains transparent to USB connections, as long as you are accessing the data through the Android device used in the encryption process.
How to encrypt Android devices
Once you have decided to encrypt your Android device – navigate to the ‘encrypt phone’ option in the Settings menu of your device. The process of the encryption of Android devices depends on the operating system. Most Android devices allow encryption, but Android 4.4 KitKat or higher work best.
If your Operating System (OS) is Android 4.4 KitKat or lower, you will need to navigate through the settings>Security>Screen Lock. Hitting the ‘encrypt device’ option will ask you for the PIN or credentials, to commence the process. After some time, your Android device will be up and running!
Also, if your Android device is running on Android 5.0 Lollipop or higher, then you will find the encryption option when you navigate through Settings>Personal>Security. From there, you will be prompted to ‘encrypt phone’ or encrypt tablet’. Hitting the option will lead you into ‘plug-in’.
Plugging the device into a power source is meant to reduce errors that may result from little power- it must not go below 80%. A prompt to set up your symmetrical options will appear- it’s time to set up your PIN, passwords or preferred unlocking credentials. These will be your login details so, implant them at your fingertips!
Whichever the Android OS you are using, the process is nearly the same- only the wording differs. Navigate to the ‘Settings Menu’ on your handset and then tap the ‘Security’ option.
Hitting the ‘Encrypt Device’ will start the Android device’ encryption process. As you do this, the screens will present to you warnings and considerations that were covered above, in this article. They will even repeat the warning, just to confirm you are sure of what you are about to do.
Confirming ‘encrypt’ makes the phone reboot to start the encryption. On the screen will be a message showing the time remaining as well as the overall progress.
Once the encryption is complete, the device will reboot, and you will have access again. If you had not set up your symmetric key, this would be the ideal time to do it.
The PIN settings are found (though wording may change in devices that use on stock Android) at the ‘Security’ option in the Settings menu. You will have to choose whether you want a pattern, PIN or password. Whichever you chose, remember to keep it secret and memorable. However, you cannot use the fingerprint reader after the first boot.
After the simple exercise, you will be done! Though you might see the performance to be not that good on low-end Android handsets, the effect will be negligible in modern devices. Other third-party Android mobile apps can also boost your files’ security. Here are some of them.
- The SSE- Universal Encryption App: helps you to encrypt particular data on your handset, with the advantage of safely managing your passwords.
- Crypto Ghost- File Encryption: allows you to use your email and password as the login credentials. That means you can retrieve your email anytime as well as share with friends while still concealing your credentials.
- Safe Camera app: allows you to encrypt your pictures.
With that comprehensive and pedagogical guide, you will have finished the encryption process. Noteworthy, when you encrypt Android devices, you are not entirely safe from advanced hackers or data retrieval programs.
This kind of encryption is only meant to keep off petty thieves, friends, and other associates from accessing your sensitive data. You cannot disable it unless you want to lose your data. That, however, does not mean it is not efficient. Encryption of Android devices could secure your data a great deal, so, it is highly recommended.
Top/Featured Image: By mammela / Pixabay