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The Easy Guide to Android Encryption

March 2, 2016

Consumers are more security conscious than ever, and cellphone manufacturers are taking notice. Default iPhone encryption and Android encryption allow users to lock down their phones, protecting stored data from hackers, as well as government spying.

Here’s what you need to know to protect your Android data — both on the device, and in the cloud.

Disk Encryption: Locking Your Phone Down

Android encryption is not enabled by default on newer phones, but activating it is very simple.

First, enable a PIN by going to Settings → Security → Screen lock → PIN, and choosing a number you can remember (alternately, you can use a pattern or password to unlock your phone). This step doesn’t activate Android encryption, but it allows it to do its job; without a code to lock your phone, users will be able to read data on an encrypted Android simply by turning it on.

Once you’ve set an unlock code, tap “encrypt phone.” Enable Android encryption when you won’t need to use your phone for a while; it can take an hour or more to encrypt all your data, and can only be used when your phone is charged and plugged in.

Protecting Communication: Encrypting Everything Your Phone Sends

Android device encryption can protect your stored files and other data, but some breaches can penetrate even the most secure platforms. Flaws like the FREAK bug have been used to break secured connections by tricking your browser and the website you’re trying to connect to into communicating using a weaker form of encryption, which is relatively easy to break. This could be used to steal your login credentials, emails or attached files, as well as other info sent over secure connections, such as bank account data.

Although FREAK has been fixed, new bugs and hacking techniques are unearthed all the time, allowing bad actors to intercept your data in transit. Additionally, HTTPS encrypts and decrypts data along each stage of its trip, which means it can be compromised if there’s something wrong with a server it travels through — for example, if the server has been hacked, or doesn’t support newer versions of the SSL/TLS encryption that HTTPS connections use.

Email encryption from Virtru gives you a better way to secure your data. Virtru uses data-centric encryption, which means your emails and attachments are protected as soon as they leave your Android device, and aren’t decrypted until they reach the recipient’s inbox. Even if a hacker intercepts your data in transit, they won’t be able to read it, since they won’t have the encryption key.

Take Android Encryption to the Cloud

Built-in Android encryption does a good job of protecting the data stored on the phone, and there are additional precautions you can take as well. Virtru encrypted email services allow you to communicate securely from anywhere, using Gmail, Microsoft Outlook and other popular email applications. Once you get Virtru on your Android device and you’ll be able to encrypt files and emails to anyone with the click of a single button. And, because Virtru works with all your devices, you can send secure emails from anywhere (not just your phone!).

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