Secure your Android OS device

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To secure the data on your mobile device, you should always use a pattern, PIN, passcode, or password to lock it. If the device is lost or stolen, this precaution can prevent others from accessing your email, calendar, contacts, and other data. See Protect data on your mobile device.

IU's Mobile Device Security Standard (IT-12.1) requires the use of data encryption on handheld devices used to access, store, or manipulate Critical data at IU. Such use also requires "written approval from the senior executive of the unit involved or the Institutional Review Board confirming a critical business need".
At Indiana University, if you use your device to access or store protected health information (PHI) regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), do not use a non-IU cloud service (such as iCloud or Google) to back up your device data, regardless of the strength of your password. For more about working with PHI at IU, see About dedicated file storage services and IT services with storage components appropriate for sensitive institutional data, including research data containing protected health information.

Set or change a screen lock pattern, PIN, or password

  1. Open Settings, and then nagivate to Location & Security or Security & Location.
  2. To set a new screen lock pattern, PIN, or password, tap Screen lock or Set up screen lock. To change existing settings, tap Screen lock or Change screen lock. If your device already has a pattern, PIN, or password, you may be prompted to enter it.
  3. Select one of the following options:
    • None: This leaves your device unprotected.
    • Swipe: This requires a swipe to unlock your device. This also leaves your device unprotected.
    • Pattern: Your unlock pattern must connect at least four dots on the screen.
    • PIN: Your PIN must be at least four and no more than 16 digits long.
    • Password: Your password must be at least four and no more than 16 characters long, and must contain at least one letter.
  4. Follow the onscreen directions to enter and confirm your pattern, PIN, or password.

By default, when you set a screen lock pattern, PIN, or password, a security lock timer is also set. Use the "When display is off" field to manage this setting.


Some Android devices have an option for fingerprint authentication. To do this, the device must also have a pattern, PIN, or password set up (see previous section).

  1. Open Settings, and then navigate to Location & Security or Security & Location.
  2. Tap Fingerprint. If your device already has a pattern, PIN, or password, you may be prompted to enter it.
  3. To add fingerprints, click Add Fingerprint, and then follow the on-screen prompts. (You can follow these steps to add multiple fingerprints.) To remove a fingerprint, click the trash can beside the listed fingerprint.

Enable encryption


Schedule an hour or more for the encryption process. If you interrupt it, you will lose some or all of your data. Additionally, before beginning the process, you should:

  • Set a screen lock pattern, PIN, or password (see instructions in the previous section).
  • Charge the battery.
  • Plug in your device.

To enable encryption on an Android 4.x device:

  1. From the "Home" or "All Apps" screen, tap Settings.
  2. Under "Personal", tap Location & Security, Security & Location, Security, or Security & Screen Lock. Click Encrypt device, Encryption, Data Encryption, or Encryption & Credentials.
  3. Tap Encrypt device/phone/tablet. Additionally:
    • If you see a checkbox for Device Data, tap to select it.
    • If you see a checkbox for Storage (Encrypts files you save to your memory card and internal storage), tap to select it.
  4. Tap Encrypt device/phone/tablet.
    Encrypt phone/tablet will be dimmed (that is, unavailable) if your battery is not charged, or your device is not plugged in. To back out of the encryption process, tap Back.
  5. Enter your lock screen PIN or password, and then tap Continue.
  6. Tap Encrypt device/phone/tablet again.

The encryption process will begin and display its progress. The process can take an hour or more; during that time, your device may restart several times.

When encryption is complete, you'll be prompted to enter your PIN or password. Additionally, you'll need to enter your PIN or password each time you power on your device.

Wipe data from your device

To remove all personal data from your device, see Clear all data from your Android OS device.

At Indiana University, if you have configured your device to connect to Exchange, you can use Outlook on the web to wipe your data remotely if your device is lost or stolen; see Manage your Exchange ActiveSync device in Outlook on the web.

For more about Android security, see Android OS Help.

This is document azld in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2022-04-04 09:19:27.