Who or what is protecting the data on computers and phones while they, and their owners, sleep? The answer is full disk encryption – which, despite its occasional vulnerability, is one of the most important tools in securing the data on people’s devices.
Full disk encryption protects data while it’s at rest on a computer or phone (rather than while it’s in transit across a network). At its best, even the device maker can’t access data stored on a disk – think of the recent FBI/Apple fracas over 2015’s San Bernardino killings.
Full disk encryption comes built into all major commercial operating systems; a user simply has to opt to use it and choose a strong password. The downside is that it doesn’t work while the computer or phone is in active use, and some systems have proved to be more effective than others.
Keep in mind though – encryption tends to be a rather permanent decision. In most cases, once you encrypt your phone it will remain encrypted. So make sure you remember your password, otherwise the best use of your phone may be as a doorstopper, because you won’t be able to use it anymore. At all.