Smartphones are the predominant mode of communication, as well as now being the devices most used to access the Internet. With so much depending on the modern smartphone, it has become one of the largest, and most competitive, markets of any consumer item. As a result, manufacturers are building devices with software that is able to encrypt the phone against unauthorized access.
When a person, who doesn’t have access to a device, tries to get into the device through one of the options, whether it be code, pattern, or biometric access, they are repelled. Without entering the credentials or biometric data that allows for a device to open, it will remain closed to the user. In fact, most modern smartphones won’t actually connect to a Wi-Fi network without the proper credentials. This is handled differently on the different mobile platforms.
The iPhone ships with 256 AES encryption. It is not stored on the phone (which could result in more successful hacks), a correct passcode combines with data stored on the Secure Enclave chip to generate a key that unlocks the device. This chip also holds biometric data (fingerprint and facial recognition) that can be used to open the device or use Apple Pay. Any Apple product that has the incorrect access controls entered repeatedly will lock, stopping unwanted parties from getting into your iPhone.
Since so many more people use the Android mobile OS, Google did not make device encryption standard until devices that run their Android 6.0 Marshmallow mobile OS. If your new Android device runs 6.0 Marshmallow or better, it now ships with encryption enabled. Since Google’s implementation of encryption depends on the manufacturer, some phones will use a key generation system similar to the iPhone’s, while others will use a more complex system called file-based encryption. File-based encryption allows for varying levels of decryption and provides unauthorized users access to a limited number of the features on the device.
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Over time, there has been a push for mobile OS developers to build in “backdoors” to ensure that law enforcement can get into a device if/when they need to. Companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google have had to field their fair share of criticism, but strongly defend their position. Apple CEO Tim Cook states the following, “In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks – from restaurants and banks to store and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.”
Encryption is for the user’s benefit. If you would like more information about modern digital cryptography or any other mobile security, visit our blog.