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How to Encrypt Your Android Phone (and Why You Might Want To)

* Help prevent security threats or malware on your phone
* Encryption scrambles data to make it unreadable to others
* Older Android phones particularly susceptible

Android users haven’t had it easy. In addition to the surprising number of recent malware attacks, experts now say older Android phones are incredibly easy to hack. This is particularly alarming considering 95% of people are running outdated versions.

That’s why encrypting and securing your phone is so important. Encryption works by taking your data and scrambling it in a way that’s virtually unreadable. Anyone who’s able to intercept your data won’t be able to see your info. So if your phone was lost or stolen, there’s no way anyone could actually see what’s inside.

Google has been steadily improving the encryption settings on their Androids for years. While newer phones may already have encryption enabled right out of the box, older models may need a little manual overhaul. Luckily, it’s not that hard to do.

For phones running Android 5.0 and newer:

The steps and names may differ slightly depending on your device, but the general layout should be the same. You can encrypt your Android by heading to the Settings menu. From there, tap Security and tap the Encrypted Phone option. (Note: if your phone is already encrypted then this option should already be toggled.) From there, simply follow the prompts. Once encryption is complete your phone will likely reboot itself.

For phones running Android 4.4 and older:

If you haven’t already, you’ll first need to set up a password before you can encrypt your phone. Head to Settings, tap Security and then choose the Screen Lock icon. From there, choose an appropriate passcode. Make sure you remember the passcode because it’s what you’ll be using later.

Next, go back to the Security section and tap the Encrypt Phone option. Again, your phone may need to do a reboot after this is done.

Additionally, you might want to also think about installing an app that lets you wipe your phone remotely. That way, if your phone was lost or stolen you could instantly erase everything stored in it.