How to encrypt your Android Device

WARNING:

  • Once Encrypted you CANNOT go back to unencrypted status.
  • You may also notice a slight performance hit as your device will be using extra resources to encrypt and decrypt your data as needed.
  • If you interrupt the process you WILL lose some or all of the data on your device so let it finish before doing anything.

Basically, encrypting you device scrambles up all your files on your device and makes them unreadable unless you unlock your device with your password or pin; without these your device is unusable and your data is fully locked from anyone.

Some recent legal rulings have suggested that encryption can protect against warrantless searches. The California Supreme Court has ruled that police officers can lawfully search your cell phone without a warrant if it’s taken from you during arrest – but they would require a warrant if it was encrypted. A Canadian court has also ruled that phones can be searched without a warrant as long as they’re unencrypted.

I currently own a Samsung Galaxy S4, but this should work with a wide range of Android devices.

First things first

Before you continue, make sure you have a PIN or password setup. To set one up, open the settings screen -> tap Security -> tap Screen Lock -> tap PIN or Password -> setup your password or pin.

Encrypt your device

  • Open the Settings screen, tap Security, and tap Encrypt device.
  • Read the warning then tap Encrypt device
  • Enter your Password or PIN to continue.

Remember, DO NOT interrupt the encryption process.

NOTE: To actually perform the low-level encryption functions, Android uses dm-crypt, which is the standard disk encryption system in the Linux kernel. It’s the same technology used by a variety of Linux distributions.

What Apple and Google have done is perfectly legal, and they are under no obligation under the “the rule of law” to decrypt users’ data if the company itself cannot access your stuff. From 47 U.S. Code § 1002:

A telecommunications carrier shall not be responsible for decrypting, or ensuring the government’s ability to decrypt, any communication encrypted by a subscriber or customer, unless the encryption was provided by the carrier and the carrier possesses the information necessary to decrypt the communication.

Your smartphone will soon be encrypted by default, and Apple or Google claim they will not be able open it for anyone – law enforcement, the FBI and possibly the NSA – even if they wanted to. – Guardian News

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