Encryption 101: How to Protect Your Personal Devices

In the modern world, your personal data is the equivalent of digital gold and deserves to be protected. With more malware cases every day, it's no shock that more people are becoming more cognizant of data protection and encryption. This article will discuss what encryption is, why you should encrypt your data, and how to do it on multiple platforms.

When data is encrypted, it turns into a collection of characters or numbers that appear to be gibberish to anyone outside. The only way to revert the data to a readable state is with a custom decryption key that only the owner of the data has access to. If your device is fully encrypted, it's almost impossible for a thief or hacker to access the personal information stored on the device. 

Encryption can also be incredibly important for businesses with sensitive data on company phones. Requiring that these devices be encrypted can be an excellent way to protect that data from corporate espionage or cyber-attacks.

Luckily in 2021, almost all popular mobile phone, laptop, and desktop PC manufacturers have built in data encryption options in their operating systems so there’s no reason to leave your personal data vulnerable on your devices. Here’s a guide on how you can quickly encrypt your devices.

iPhones (iOS)

Personal data on Apple phones is encrypted by default whenever the phone is locked with a passcode or Touch ID. Here’s how to check if your data encryption is on.

  1. Go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode.
  1. Press “Turn Passcode On” if not enabled already.
  1. Press “Passcode options” to choose a custom numeric or alphanumeric code (recommended).
  1. Confirm your device is encrypted by scrolling to the bottom of the Settings > Touch ID & Passcode screen. You should see the “Data protection is enabled” message. This means that the device's encryption is now tied to your passcode, and that most data on your phone will need that code to unlock it.

Android phones

If your Android device is running version 5.0 and higher (2015 or newer), chances are encryption is already enabled by default. If it’s not, the steps to enable it are once again fairly straightforward.

  1. Go to settings and navigate to the “security” menu (sometimes called “security & location”).
  2. Scroll down until you see an option to encrypt your phone, often called “encryption & credentials.” 
  3. If your phone is encrypted by default, it will say so in this menu. If not, tap on “encrypt phone” and proceed.

Mac devices

For Mac devices, most newer products running MacOS have FileVault2 pre installed. If you have an older device then you might have to manually download FileVault2 which is available on OS X Lion or later. FileVault provides full-disk encryption which when active, encrypts all files on your device and encrypts new files as you write them.

  1. Use the Apple Menu to open System Preferences
  2. Select Security & Privacy
  3. Navigate to the FileVault tab and click on the lock on the bottom left. When you enter your password to unlock the setting, you will be able to select “Turn on FileVault”.
  4. You will be asked to create a recovery key in case you misplace your Mac’s password and you cannot access your data.
  5. After generating an encryption key, the encryption process will being and can take several hours.

Windows Devices

Built in device encryption is available on supported devices running any Windows 10 edition.

To see if you can use device encryption

  1. Select the Start  button, and then under Windows Administrative Tools, select System Information.
  2. At the bottom of the System Information window, find Device Encryption Support. If the value says Meets prerequisites, then device encryption is available on your device. If it isn't available, you may be able to use standard BitLocker encryption instead.

To turn on device encryption

  1. Select the Start  button, then select Settings  > Update & Security > Device encryption.
  2.  If Device encryption doesn't appear, it isn't available. You may be able to turn on standard BitLocker encryption instead.
  3. If device encryption is turned off, select Turn on and restart your device.

For more information on data security best practices, check out our other blog posts:

What is Data Security?


Five Ways to Secure Data During the Summer


Zeguro is a cyber safety solution and insurance provider for small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs), offering a comprehensive suite of tools for risk mitigation and compliance, as well as insurance premiums that are tailored to the size, sector and profile of a company.
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Jai Bawa
Written by

Jai Bawa

Content Marketing and Social Media Intern

Student at San Jose State University, fascinated with the world of Digital Marketing. Movie enthusiast. Always curious!

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