Data Encryption on phone is not a new concept, however in recent years there have been some issues regarding how it affects phone performance and its use as required by operating system manufacturers.
The two main phone operating systems, iOS from Apple and Android from Google, use a device address for encryption. Each device has a unique address based on the hardware part number (similar to a MAC address), and the encryption for the phone is based on that number. Google and Apple don’t have access to those numbers and therefor don’t have any way to access your information. New phones currently have device encryption enabled by default, in contrast with their old standard which provided it as an encryption but left it disabled by default.
In addition to the default encryption, there are numerous apps dedicated to phone encryption. Most general purpose security apps, such as those offered by Kaspersky, AVG and Norton, also provide data encryption. Sometime text message and password encryption is a available too.
Windows phones also have device encryption available. The main difference Microsoft’s encryption method is that it is software based as opposed to hardware based. Unfortunately, since the encryption is employed via EAS (Exchange ActiveSync) the only way to employ this is through a Microsoft email account. And since encryption is determine by information Microsoft has access to, they also have access to the encryption key on the phone.
There are a few downsides to the hardware based encryption, at least as far as Android’s recent update to Lollipop is concerned. First, data encryption is only enabled automatically if a new phone is bought with Lollipop on it. However if an old phone is updated to Lollipop, encryption remains disabled by default. Also, for those using SD cards, Android can’t guarantee that data stored on the card will be encrypted as some phones allow this and some don’t.
So while data encryption is important there are many different options depending on native OS and various apps available for the phones. Above all though, device encryption is a moot point if the device doesn’t have a password.