How to Encrypt Your iPhone

Learn if iPhone encryption is right for you

What to Know

  • To enable iPhone encryption, open Settings, tap Face ID & Passcode, and make sure passcode is enabled.
  • Data protection is enabled should be displayed at the bottom of the Face ID & Passcode screen.
  • iPhone’s data encryption does not prevent authorities from accessing your backup on Apple’s servers.

This guide will walk you through the steps for how to enable data encryption on your iPhone. It’ll explain what iPhone data is encrypted once this iOS security feature is enabled and will also include some tips on how to enhance your smartphone’s privacy and security even further.

How to Enable Data Encryption on iPhone

Your iPhone’s data encryption setting is likely already turned on if you have either a passcode or Face ID enabled for unlocking your mobile and logging into apps. Here’s how you can check to see if your data is protected and what to do if it isn’t.

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Scroll down and select Face ID & Passcode.

  3. Enter the passcode you set up when you initially got your iPhone.

    iPhone Setting screen with Face ID and Passcode and Enter your password highlighted.
  4. Check to make sure the Turn Passcode Off option is showing. This means your passcode is currently enabled and your iPhone’s data encryption is active when it’s locked.

    If you see Turn Passcode On, this means you haven’t set up a passcode or the one you have made has been disabled. If this is the case, tap Turn Passcode On to activate it or set up an iPhone passcode.

  5. Scroll down to the bottom of the page. If you see the Data protection is enabled message, this means your iPhone’s data is being protected and is now more difficult for attackers to access.

    If you don’t see this message, double-check to make sure that your passcode is enabled. You may find it inconvenient at times to use a passcode but it’s required for the iPhone’s data encryption process to work properly.

    Face ID and Passcode settings with Turn Passcode Off and Data protection is enabled

Does iPhone Have Encryption?

Yes. Apple’s iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad smart devices all support basic built-in encryption while a passcode is enabled. Macs also support their own form of data encryption.

The encryption on Apple’s iOS and iPadOS devices, such as the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, is called Data Protection. Mac data encryption is referred to as FileVault.

What Does It Mean to Encrypt Your iPhone?

When an iPhone is locked and a passcode is enabled, the majority of your personal data and Apple account information is encrypted. This encryption makes it harder for malicious individuals and groups to access your smartphone’s information whether they’re physically near your or are attempting to hack your iPhone through the internet, a cellular network, or a Bluetooth connection.

Unlocking your iPhone with either your passcode or Face ID decrypts your iPhone’s data, so you, or anyone you give your phone to while it’s unlocked, can access it.

What Data Does iPhone Encryption Protect?

When an iPhone’s data protection setting is enabled, the following type of information and activity is encrypted:

  • Saved passwords and usernames.
  • Wi-Fi internet settings and preferences.
  • Safari web browsing history.
  • Health data.
  • Phone and iMessage history.
  • Photos and videos.
  • Contacts, notes, reminders, and other Apple app data.

While the added protection provided should give you extra peace of mind, it’s important to understand this encrypted data isn't completely private when it’s backed up to Apple’s servers via iCloud. Apple initially planned to fully encrypt all user backups to help protect user privacy but they eventually backtracked on this after receiving pressure from the FBI.

iPhone data saved to the cloud as part of an iCloud backup can still be accessed by authorities.

This means, while your iPhone’s encryption does protect its local data from direct attacks, authorities can still gain access to any encrypted files or activity that you’ve synced to your iCloud account during a backup if required for an investigation.

Does iPhone Data Protection Protect Everything?

Most data associated with first-party Apple apps and services is protected when data protection is enabled but this doesn’t include information and files associated with third-party apps.

For example, having iPhone data protection enabled will not protect your Facebook account from hackers if you use a weak password for it and don’t have two-factor authentication (2FA) enabled. Encryption also won’t protect any communications you’ve made via a third-party messaging app if their servers are hacked.

Enabling encryption on your iPhone is just one step you should take when it comes to protecting your personal data.

There are several effective ways to improve your security when using your iPhone. Here are some quick tips to get you started.

FAQ
  • How do I encrypt my messages on iPhone?

    Apple services like iMessage and FaceTime have built-in end-to-end encryption so that messages can only be seen by you and the recipient. Be sure to set up a passcode for your iPhone so that no one can access your messages if they get ahold of your phone.

  • How do I reset my iPhone backup password?

    If you forget the password for your iPhone backup, there's no way to access your data, but you can make a new backup with a new password. On your device, go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings and enter your passcode. Then, create a new backup with a password you'll remember.

  • How do I encrypt emails on my iPhone?

    Go to Settings > Accounts & passwords > your email account > Advanced. Switch on S/MIME and change Encrypt by Default to Yes. When composing an email, tap the Lock icon next to the recipient so that it's closed to encrypt the email.

  • How do I remotely wipe my stolen or lost iPhone data?

    First, enable Find My iPhone. In a web browser, log in to iCloud and select All Devices, choose your device, then select Erase iPhone to remotely wipe your iPhone.

  • How do I encrypt my iPad data?

    The steps for encrypting an iPad are the same as setting up encryption on an iPhone since they both use the same operating system (iOS). That said, features may differ depending on which version of iOS your device is running.

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