How to Encrypt your iPhone

If you have an iPhone 3GS onwards, a 3rd generation iPod Touch or any iPad model, you can protect the data stored on your device using encryption. Here’s our guide on all things iPhone and encryption.

iPhone encryption is essential to protect your data. While the default protection ensures your iPhone is safe from thieves, if your phone goes missing, there’s nothing to stop all of your data from being accessed. If you think how much of our personal lives we store on our iPhones and other personal devices – photos, financial information and emails to name a few – you’re going to want to ensure everything is protected. This is where encryption comes in, and fortunately, encrypting the data on your iPhone is easy. While encryption can be a difficult concept for many people to get their head around, essentially it scrambles your data and renders it unreadable to anyone without the decryption key, or in the case of an iPhone, the passcode, Touch ID or Face ID of the user. Everything that is stored on your iPhone is protected by encryption, including photos, videos, text messages and documents. In addition, anything that is stored on iCloud is also encrypted.  

Personal data on the latest iOS devices – iPhone 3GS, 3rd generation iPod Touch and all iPads – is automatically encrypted when the passcode is enabled. The encryption settings can be found in the Settings app under “Touch ID and Passcode” or “Face ID and Passcode” in the iPhone X or above. You can have a four-digit passcode for time, or a longer, six character alphanumeric code for added protection; Apple claim it would take five years to crack this. As well as encrypting the data on your iPhone, you can also encrypt your iPhone backups for maximum security. To do this, open iTunes, and on the iPhone summary page, tick the box marked “Encrypt iPhone Backup”. iTunes will then ask you for a password, and upon entering it, your iPhone backups will be encrypted. An extra layer of protection can also be added to your iPhone, by deleting your phone of all its data after 10 failed passcode entries. It's worth weighing up if this is necessary, however, particularly if your device is frequently within the reach of young children. Outside of work devices, is this really necessary?

Apple are keen to point out that they can’t bypass encryption, and that only the passcode can decrypt a device’s data if it’s running iOS 8 onwards. Apple has bumped up the rhetoric around encryption following the PRISM scandal, where they were implicated in a NSA data mining scandal. Although Apple denied working with the NSA, leaks later revealed that the NSA had created spyware to infect iOS devices and gain access to personal data.

iPhone Encryption