What is encryption for Android

Encrypt Android: secure calls, emails & Co.

Arne Arnold, Dirk Bongardt, Dennis Steimels, Verena Ottmann and Sandra Ohse

Protect your sensitive data so that it doesn't end up in the wrong hands! We'll show you the easiest way to do this and what to look out for.

In this article we will tell you how you can finally use your Android smartphone without having to worry about your data, your private communication or virus attacks. We explain to you how you can encrypt not only your entire smartphone and individual files, but also all of your communication such as emails, phone calls and chats. In addition, we will tell you which rules you should follow to protect your smartphone from viruses and how you can surf the Internet anonymously.

Encrypt your smartphone and all data

Your smartphone contains sensitive data such as emails, contacts, photos, videos, app data, downloads or access data for Google and social networks. To prevent it from falling into the wrong hands, it is a good idea to protect all private data on your device. Below you will find detailed instructions with which you can encrypt everything on your smartphone or just individual files.

EnlargeYou can easily secure older smartphones yourself afterwards.

Smartphone: Many current Android smartphones are now equipped with factory encryption. However, older devices in particular do not yet have this security feature. If you have a smartphone that is equipped with at least the Android 3.0 operating system, you can activate the coding yourself afterwards. To do this, open the settings on your device and go to "Security". Here you will find the option “Encrypt phone”. If this option is missing and your smartphone is equipped with Android 5.0 or a higher version, you can assume that the manufacturer has also encrypted the device at the factory. In order to start the encryption, the battery must be charged to at least 80 percent. Also note that encryption also takes a long time. The process can take several hours.

Before encrypting your data, you should create a backup, which you do not save in the internal memory of the smartphone. You can do this yourself with the manufacturers' management programs such as “Samsung Smart Switch”, or you can use third-party software such as “My Phone Explorer”, which is compatible with most smartphones. Note that the encryption process can take up to an hour. If this is too long for you, you can also choose the “Fast encryption” option, which only encrypts the space used on the smartphone. In addition, the android requires you to enter a numeric PIN or a password so that you can protect the data on the one hand and decrypt it again on the other. You must enter the password each time you activate your smartphone after encryption. If you want to cancel the encryption because you have encountered performance problems, for example, you must reset the device to the factory settings. All data on the mobile phone will be deleted. Therefore, you should never forget the backup beforehand!

EnlargeWith File Protector, individual files can be encrypted on your smartphone.

Encrypt individual files: If you do not want to encrypt your entire smartphone, but only individual files on it, you can use the English-language app File Protector Full Version, among other things. It is basically structured like a file manager. So you have access to all the data that is in your phone memory. Select the file you want by tapping the small circle to the right of the file name, and then touch the red lock icon in the menu bar at the top of the screen. The app now asks you to set a password and then enter it again. Then confirm the action with the "Encrypt" button. The application will now encrypt the selected file. If the file is an image, no preview image appears in the display, but only an icon with a red lock symbol. To be able to open the file again, select the relevant file again and then tap the green lock symbol at the top. Enter the previously specified password and decrypt the file using "Decrypt". In addition to individual files, you can also encode multiple data or entire folders.

Encrypt micro SD with Samsung devices

EnlargeThe micro SD memory card can also be encrypted. With Samsung you will find this option in the settings under “General -> Security”.

If you want to keep your data particularly safe on your smartphone, you can have the content on the micro SD card protected in addition to full encryption. This is particularly good with Samsung devices, because they offer the encryption option in the settings under "General -> Security -> Encrypt external SD card".

In order to use the function, the lock screen must be protected with a password - other methods such as a PIN or pattern lock cannot be used here. The password must again consist of at least six letters and one number. In addition, before starting the process, you can choose whether multimedia files should also be encrypted. This is followed by various confirmations and a password entry until the encryption starts. Once completed, you will need to enter the previously set password each time to access the micro SD card. But: The protection can also be deactivated again in the settings.

The disadvantage: Since the lockscreen password and the encryption password match, the encryption protects especially when the card is outside the smartphone, i.e. when a potential data thief wants to gain access via the card reader.

Communicate in encrypted form

To ensure that your private conversations remain private, you should communicate with your smartphone in encrypted form. The Google Play Store offers encrypted and free chat programs, mail clients and even phone apps that minimize the risk of attacks.

EnlargeIn order to chat with Telegram in encrypted form, you have to activate the “Common Chat” option in advance.

Encrypted chat: The encryption messenger Telegram encrypts the chat end-to-end, the conversation history is not saved on the server - but only if you have selected the "Secure Chat" option. Here the program automatically deletes the chat history from both devices after an expiration date that you set. Two restrictions are even possible for access to the app. On the one hand, a four-digit PIN code can be set up to unlock the chats and, on the other hand, an additional password can be set. This means you can be sure that unauthorized persons who get their hands on your smartphone cannot access your private conversations. Telegram's source code is publicly available. The security of the encryption can therefore be checked by experts at any time.

EnlargeEncrypted messages can also be sent to contacts who do not use "Proton Mail".

Sending encrypted mails on Android: In principle, anyone can intercept other people's e-mails on the web. The big problem: The mails are transmitted in clear text over a largely open line. An alternative is the Proton Mail service. The mail client takes the worry out of the security of your electronic mail and makes messages inviolable for unauthorized persons using end-to-end encryption. To send an encrypted mail, install the app on your smartphone and create a new "Proton Mail" account. Set a strong password, and then try entering it again. In terms of encryption, you can choose between the options “High security (2048 bit)” and “Extreme security (4096 bit)”. Complete the setup and tap the pencil icon in the upper right corner to compose a new email. Now you have two options. In order to send a message to another “Proton Mail” user, you do not need to take any further encryption steps. If you want to send a coded message to a contact without a “Proton Mail” account, tap the small lock on the e-mail form. Here you can now set a password and an optional note for decrypting the message.Then confirm the entry via "Apply". The person you are talking to must then enter the password in order to read your message.