Tuesday Tip: Encrypt Your Android

By Richard Stokes

Encrypt android

As promised, this is the follow-up from the blog I wrote 2 weeks ago on how to encrypt your iPhone/iPad.  I know there are lots of you that own Androids so I thought it’s only fair to give you all the same tip.  Before I do – full disclosure – I do not own an Android so this is a compilation of information I have researched online and by talking with Android users.

Recap: Encryption is simply the process of safeguarding data so that it is stored in an unreadable format and can only be decrypted into a readable format by an authorized user.  This is very important if you work in a regulated industry such as healthcare or financial services and work with a lot of sensitive information.

As with the Apple products – encrypting your Android only serves its purpose if you are in the habit of locking your phone and utilizing a password, lock pattern, or PIN to unlock it.  So, before you do anything else, start locking your phone.  If you’re not sure of how to do this, here is a decent article on the options for setting up the lock screen for your device.

Now let’s talk about the encryption piece.

For those of you that have just purchased an Android and it shipped with the newest Operating System 5.0 already installed (also known as Lolipop), then by default, encryption is enabled on your device.  Therefore, the moment you turn it on it will begin encrypting data so you won’t need to go through the exercise below.  Just don’t forget to set-up your preferred screen lock feature.

Encrypt android2








For those of you that have an older Android and are running version 3.0 and higher (see image to the left for recent versions and their respective names) you’ll have to manually enable the encryption feature.  If you have anything less than version 3.0 you can’t encrypt and you really need to consider upgrading.  I’m also speculating that the Candy Crush app and the board game Candy Land are popular distractions with the developers over there!

Here is how to set-up encryption:

  • Click on the Settings icon to bring up the settings menu options. Find and select the ‘Security’ section and look for the ‘Encrypt phone’ option.

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Once you tap on ‘Encrypt phone’ you will see the informational screen to the right (above) which is simply there to give you another chance to back-out before you proceed with encryption.

Here’s what you need to pay attention to before you encrypt:

  • The encryption process can take 30-60 minutes to complete so keep it plugged in and charging so the battery doesn’t die during the encryption procedure. This would cause the process to fail and you could lose data.
  • If you have an older Android, once encrypted, the phone may operate more slowly afterwards. Newer models will not have this issue.
  • You cannot disable encryption once you have chosen to encrypt. The only way to reverse this is to factory reset your phone which will erase all data anyway.
  • Encryption will only protect files and photos that are stored on the phone’s local data partition. If you are using a removable microSD storage card, this data will not get encrypted.

There’s not much  worse than losing your phone and worrying about someone having access to your stuff.  Hopefully, it will never happen to you but if it does, think about how much better you’d feel if you had taken the steps to keep it protected with a passcode and encryption.

Richard Stokes: As the Director of Sales for Network 1, Richard identifies “future” clients that can benefit from the support of an experienced, outsourced IT team. He helps clients and prospects find technology solutions they need to achieve better productivity and efficiency so they can focus on making money and growing their businesses.

Network 1 designs, builds and supports the IT you need to run your business more securely, productively and successfully. Whether you want to outsource all of your IT needs to a reliable, responsive, service-oriented company, or need to supplement the work of your internal IT staff, we will carefully evaluate where you are now, discuss where you want to go and implement and support a plan to get you there with as little interruption as possible.

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