You've heard about encryption and know it's a super-secure way to protect your smartphones and tablets from hackers, criminals and prying eyes. But you've mostly heard about it on iPhones, which could make the Android users among us a bit jealous.
Apple's iPhone is better known than Android phones for its encryption. However, encryption is available to everyone, especially if you're using newer devices like iPhone 7 or Samsung's Galaxy S7. You can even send encrypted messages on most other Android devices, too. But, before we get to that, what exactly is encryption?
It's simply a process where your email messages, texts, photos, bank accounts and other information are scrambled so that no one can understand what they're seeing. That's so even if they get past your extra layer of protection, such as a password or biometric access, like fingerprints or eye scans.
So, why would you want to send an encrypted message? Well, think about all the hacking that's been going on, whether it's forged IRS tax returns or government hacks all the way up to the White House.
You may have sensitive information, like employee records, that you want to ensure aren't hacked. Or you may just want to keep your private conversations private.
Whatever your reason for encrypting a message, these four apps and sites will make it a lot easier to do on your Android device.
1. Signal Private Messenger
If you like to send messages to friends, and these days who doesn't, it's easy to get lulled into a false sense of safety. You can chat away with friends for hours, sharing all sorts of personal details about your kids, family and you. You should ask yourself, though, "Who else is reading these chats?" Or, who's looking at your photos and videos?
With Signal, free on the Google Play Store, you can easily install this app to encrypt your messages, group chats and phone calls. It uses an end-to-end encryption protocol called TextSecure.
Signal doesn't store any of your information, so no one can access it. Just make sure your friends and family are also using Signal. If they're not, they'll get a prompt to install it when they receive a Signal message from you.
2. Encrypt Text with CryptMax
If you want to occasionally send encrypted messages and you want to keep it simple, the free Encrypt Text with CryptMax may be right for you. It uses a fairly basic method that you probably use every day: copy and paste.
First, type in your message. Encrypt Text with CryptMax will prompt you to add in a password. It then encrypts your message using the Advanced Encryption Standard. You copy and paste the encrypted message into a text or messenger app.
Whoever you're sending it to needs to know the password to unlock your encrypted message.
3. Encrypt Easy
If you're worried that you're sending information that's not secure, perhaps on public Wi-Fi, you can easily send an encrypted message from the Encrypt Easy website.
Just type in the message and password and it's encrypted using one of several encryption algorithms, such as Rijndael or Twofish. Copy and paste the message into a text or email. Whoever you're sending it to needs to know the password to open your message.
Bonus: OpenKeychain: Easy PGP and K-9 Mail
These two free Google Play Store apps work together to securely encrypt your email messages. There are a few steps to get started that may be best suited to the techie in your family - You, if that's you. Once up and running, all your emails are encrypted.
First, install the OpenKeychain: Easy PGP app. (PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy.) From there, you "Create My Key" to encrypt your messages.
Second, install K-9 Mail. Once it's working, go to Account Settings, then Cryptopgraphy, then OpenPGP app. Under OpenPGP app, select OpenKeychain.
That's it. Keep your privacy private, and be sure to tell your family and friends how they can do the same.