Weekend Project: Encrypt Your Phone and Tablet

Tablet with lock icon on white background. Slide up to unlock your phone. Easy Lock is the easiest way for locking or unlocking your phone.
computer-security-guide-cover-2nd-ed

4-Step Computer Security Upgrade

Learn to encrypt your files, secure your computer when using public Wi-Fi, enable two-factor authentication, and use good passwords.

For the holiday weekend, an easy project most people will have done already. Encryption sounds like a hard thing, but it’s really easy. It’s so easy, in fact, that it’s negligent not to encrypt your devices.

Three taps and you’re done. It will take less than a minute to do it right now, and then you can feel productive all weekend.

Encrypting iPhones and iPads

To encrypt and iPhone or iPad, all you have to do is set an unlock code. iOS 8.0 and newer automatically encrypts the contents of your iPhone or iPad once you set a passcode. To do this, just go to the Settings app and tap Passcode or Touch ID & Passcode depending on your device. Then scroll down to Turn Passcode On, tap it, and follow the instructions.

Encrypting Android Devices

If you have an Android device running Android 2.3.4 or newer, make sure you have set up a passcode, then go to the Settings, tap Security, and then tap Encrypt phone/tablet. It may take some time to encrypt your Android device, so it might be best to start this when you won’t be using it for a while and you can leave it plugged in.

Living with Encrypted Devices

When I talk about encryption people usually want to know how if they will have to do something different in order to send attachments, or if it means their email is now encrypted.

Here’s the deal. Once you turn on encryption, you will be able to use your phone and tablet exactly as you do right now. You never have to think about the fact that you are using file encryption unless you want to (for example, if you want to feel good about how secure your devices are, which you are entitled to do after you encrypt your files). When you are logged on and using your device, it will automatically decrypt files on the fly as you need them. You will not have to do anything different in order to access your files or share them with other people.

And no, it does not mean your email will be encrypted.

Your files will only be unreadable to someone who tries to access them in an unauthorized way, like plugging your phone into a computer to scan its contents. When you log in to your phone or tablet as usual, you will be able to use it exactly as you do right now.

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  • Sam,

    To clarify, will encrypting my Android phone protect my data from lurkers and other evil-doers when using public wifi?

    • No, because the data being intercepted is being transmitted over the air. Encryption only protects the data on your phone.

      To protect the data you transmit over public Wi-Fi, you need a VPN.