Securing your Device for Mobile Data Collection

Increasing Mobile Security for Data Collection

wsj-encryption-mobileAs mobile data collection becomes more and more common, it’s also becoming more likely that it will be used to collect increasing amounts of confidential information – and this makes it essential to take steps to increase security of your mobile data collection device.  In this post, we’ll go through the simple steps that let you increase mobile security for your iOS or Android device for all purposes, as well as the key points for Magpi specifically.

Apple added device encryption back in 2014, and because a much higher percentage of iOS devices are using the latest version of the operating system, almost every iOS device is encrypted.  As reported last year by the Wall Street Journal, this is definitely not the case with Android (see graph) – but you can usually still encrypt your Android device pretty easily.

Turn on Encryption with Apple iOS – iPhones and iPads

ios-passcode-settingsApple added device encryption to its mobile security options back in 2014, and because almost all iOS devices are using the latest version of the operating system (see tweet/graph above), almost every iOS device is encrypted.

Encryption is very simple to activate: you just need to enable a numeric passcode. This is a series of 4 or 6 numbers that you can use to unlock your device.  To set up your passcode, just follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Touch ID & Passcode (or Passcode if  you’re using a device without TouchID, the fingerprint reading system).
  3. Click on the Turn Passcode On option.
  4. Enter a strong passcode or password – best to choose a 6 digit option, especially if your device has TouchID, since with TouchID you won’t be entering the passcode very frequently, and will be using the quick fingerprint scan instead.

As soon as you set a passcode, your whole iOS device is encrypted and secure!

Turn on Encryption with Android

android-security-settingsWith Android, because there are so many different manufacturers, and because many Android devices are not running the latest version of the operating system, there is more variety in how to set up device encryption, and device security in general.

For devices running any version older than 4 (“Ice Cream Sandwich”), you’ll need to either upgrade your operating system or consult the manufacturer’s instructions.

For devices running Android version 4 or later, you should be able to turn on encryption from the Settings app:

  1. As a first step, make sure your data is backed up, just in case something goes wrong.
  2. Go to Settings, the select Security, then choose Lock Screen, and create a pin or password (note: you won’t be able to secure your device with a pattern if you want to encrypt it).
  3. Also in Settings\Security there will be an option for Encryption. Select this.
  4. Wait for encryption to complete (this can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours)

Note that on Android devices, encryption can cause some slowdown of the system – another good reason to get a good, capable phone for your data collection: running the latest OS, and with at least 1-2GB of system RAM memory.

One last tip for Android devices: if you’re using an SD card for storage, you can encrypt that, too.  As described in this tip from ZDNet:

Just go to Settings > System > Security > Encrypt external SD card > Enable and follow the prompts. This not only encrypts the contents of the SD card, but it also means that the card cannot be used on another device unless it is wiped.

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