How to encrypt data on your iPhone 4

September 1, 2010

A lot of people don’t know it, and a lot of people complain about the level of security on an iPhone, but the iPhone 4 is able to encrypt some its data right out of the box. Here’s how to run a safer iPhone.

Setting the iPhone’s lowest level of encryption is as simple as enabling the use of a passcode to gain entry to your phone. That can be done by tapping on Settings, then looking down the list of links and clicking on “Passcode Lock.” On the screen that then appears, click on “Turn Passcode On” and enter a four-digit passcode on the screen that then appears. You can also change you current passcode on this screen. It should be an easy proposition to come up with a four-number code that you can remember.

Of course, it is also fairly easy to break that code, especially if the person knows you and you have used you birthdate as a passcode. There is another, higher level of encryption available for your data. If you turn off Simple Passcode, you will be asked for a longer passcode, which can contain numbers, letters, special characters, and punctuation. That would make it very difficult to gain physical access to your phone, as long as it has not been jailbroken. Jailbreaking opens up other avenues for data theft.

At the very least, turning passcode encryption on, either simple or complex, will cause your email and attachments to use the passcode to encrypt your email and passwords. There are also apps available in the App Store which make use of the available encryption algorithm to encrypt other data. There is an additional function available on this screen: “Erase Data.” It is off by default. If you turn it on, and your phone is lost or stolen, the entry of 10 incorrect password attempts, which would be a large possibility if someone was guessing your passcode, will cause all data on your iPhone to be erased. You can then restore your data from the last backup if you get your phone back.

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