This post is about what I did to encrypt my Android phone in support of Apple’s stance against the FBI. I’ll provide step by step details so that you can encrypt your android phone as well.
Before I continue, I must state that I certainly don’t condone atrocious acts of violence. Additionally, I equally don’t condone allowing any government the ability to search through my digital information whenever “They” deem it necessary.
Apple vs. the FBI
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can catch up to this topic by reading this article from the New York Times, “Explaining Apple’s Fight With the FBI“.
Additionally, Wired does a much better job of explaining the implications of handing the FBI the power to break the encryptions of our personal information in their article, “The Apple-FBI Fight Isn’t About Privacy vs. Security. Don’t Be Misled“.
It goes against my left leaning sensibilities to support an overreaching police state. I’m grateful that men like Edward Snowden exist in this world, who are willing to give up everything to let us know the extent that government will go to in order to spy upon any and all citizens.
In a show of support towards Apple’s stance on this issue, I decided to encrypt my Android phone.
I’ve always been an Android user, and prefer it to Apple. Unlike the iPhone, which comes already encrypted, you must manually encrypt most Android phones.
How to Encrypt Your Android Phone
Encryption will store your phone’s data in an unreadable, scrambled form. You’ll have to enter an encryption password on your phone’s lock-screen to decrypt your data, to make it understandable. If someone doesn’t know the encryption password, they can’t access your data.
Note: I have an older Samsung Galaxy S4, but the steps I outline below should be somewhat similar in all Android phones.
- Open the settings on your Android. You can either find the gear icon among your apps, or more easily, swipe down from the top and select the gear.
- Select the “More” tab, or navigate to where you see the “Security” icon, and select it.
Next, you’ll see the option to encrypt your Android device. When you select it, your phone will walk you through the steps of setting up a more secure password.
A more secure password is required. You will not be able to use a swipe code to unlock your phone on an encrypted Android device.
You will be required to charge your phone to at least 80% before you begin, so that you do not run out of power during the encryption and screw the process up.
It only took about 30 minutes for my phone to fully encrypt.
Encryption may slow your phone down slightly. The slight difference that I noticed is mostly negligible.
You will need to perform a factory reset if you ever decide to restore your phone to an unencrypted state.
After you encrypt your Android device, you can choose to also encrypt the SD card. I tried it out, but if you store apps on your SD card in order to save memory space on your phone, like I do, then those apps become inaccessible.
Rather than deal with that, I chose to leave my SD card unencrypted.
There may be information stored on those apps that could be accessible by prying eyes. Hackers or government saboteurs could also access images or video if you store them on an unencrypted SD card. Ultimately, it’s up to you to choose your level of comfortable security.
It’s possible that encrypting your phone will not protect you 100% from those who would invade your privacy, but it sure does make it harder for them to do so.
Not all governments play by the same rules. If you’re traveling abroad, you may have additional reasons for securing your information.
What about you? Do you support my stance against government intrusion, or are you the type that would gladly give up your liberty for more government “security”?