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Encrypting Your Samsung Galaxy Tab 3

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If you want to encrypt your Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 so no unauthorized users can use it, you can employ various encryption features. Eric Butow, author of My Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, shows you how to have the Tab 3 encrypt the device itself as well as encrypt an external SD card.
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If you’re concerned about misplacing your Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 and/or having the Tab 3 stolen, you can give yourself some peace of mind about the safety of your data by encrypting that data on the Tab 3. After you encrypt the data, you will have to enter a PIN or password to log in to your Tab 3 and de-encrypt the data on the device so you can use it.

Encrypt the Tab 3 Device

Begin the encryption process by tapping the Settings icon on the Home screen; within the Settings screen, swipe down the settings list on the left side of the screen and then tap Security. The Security settings list appears, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1 The Security settings list appears on the right side of the screen

In the Encryption section at the top of the list, tap Encrypt Device. Information about encrypting your device appears on the right side of the screen, as shown in Figure 2. You should read this information to understand what’s involved with encrypting your device, including keeping the device plugged in during the encryption process and the password requirements.

Figure 2 The Encrypt Device information in the Security screen tells you how to set a proper unlock password

You can set the screen lock type by tapping the Set Screen Lock Type button at the bottom of the screen. The Select Screen Lock Type settings list appears on the right side of the screen, as shown in Figure 3. To encrypt the Tab 3, you need to tap PIN or Password in the list; for this article, I’ll create a password.

Figure 3 The PIN and Password options appear near the bottom of the Select Screen Lock Type list

After you tap the Password option in the list, the Select Password screen appears, as shown in Figure 4. You can type a password that has at least six characters, and one of those characters must be a number. When you finish typing your password, tap the Continue button.

Figure 4 The password you type appears hidden in the Password field

Next, you need to type your password again in the Confirm Password field, shown in Figure 5. When you’re done, tap the OK button.

Figure 5 Type the password again, which appears hidden in the Confirm Password field

Now you see the Encrypt Device information screen again, as shown in Figure 6, with the Encrypt Device button at the bottom of the screen. Begin encrypting the Tab 3 by tapping the Encrypt Device button.

Figure 6 Be sure the battery is charged and the device is plugged in before you tap the Encrypt Device button

You’re asked to confirm the password you entered earlier in the Confirm Password screen that looks very similar to what you saw in Figure 5. After you type the password, tap the Continue button. You see the Confirm Encryption screen, as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7 The Confirm Encryption screen reminds you not to interrupt the encryption process or you may lose data

If you don’t want to encrypt the entire device but only data that is taking up memory, tap the Fast Encryption checkbox. Otherwise, encrypt all data on the device by leaving the checkbox blank and tap the Encrypt Device button.

Over the next hour (though it may take less time), your Tab 3 will restart several times as the device encrypts your data. You can view the status of the encryption process on the Encrypting screen that appears as the Tab 3 does its work. You will be asked to enter your password to complete the encryption process.

Once the process is complete, you need to enter your password in the Lock screen. You’ll have to enter your password every time you turn the Tab 3 on or awaken from sleep mode. This approach ensures that your device data will be secure no matter if you have the Tab 3 on or off.

Encrypt the External SD Card

If you have a MicroSD card installed on the Tab 3, you need to encrypt the card separately. You can encrypt the card by tapping the Settings icon on the Home screen; within the Settings screen, swipe down the settings list on the left side of the screen and then tap Security. In the Security settings list shown in Figure 9, tap Encrypt External SD Card.

Figure 9 The Encrypt External SD Card option appears within the Encryption section at the top of the list

By default, MicroSD card encryption is turned off. You can turn on encryption by tapping the Turn On button at the bottom of the screen. Next, the Tab 3 asks if you want to encrypt all files on your SD card, as shown in Figure 10. Begin the encryption process by tapping the Yes button.

Figure 10 The Yes and No buttons appear at the bottom of the screen; cancel encryption by tapping the No button

You see another screen asking if you want to exclude multimedia files from encryption. If you do, tap the Yes button. For this example, I’ll tap No so the system encrypts all files on the MicroSD card. Next, you see the confirmation screen that lists your encryption options. When you’re ready to start the encryption process, tap the Continue button at the bottom of the screen.

Now you see the Confirm Password screen so you can type the password you used when you encrypted the Tab 3. After you type the password in the Confirm Password field, tap the Continue button. Finally, you see the confirmation screen asking if you want to turn on SD card encryption and showing you a list of what you need to remember before you start encrypting your MicroSD card. When you’re ready to begin, tap the Apply button at the bottom of the screen.

After a few seconds, a window appears on your screen that asks if you want to restart the Tab 3 to continue the encryption process; tap the OK button in the window to continue the process. At the bottom of the screen, you see the text SD Card Encrypted, as shown in Figure 11.

Figure 11 The SD Card Encrypted text appears after the Tab 3 has encrypted the MicroSD card successfully

When the MicroSD card is encrypted, you also see an icon on the left of the Status Bar that shows an outline of the MicroSD card with a lock next to it. You can remove this icon from the Status Bar by opening the Quick Settings and Notifications screen and tapping SD Card Encryption in the Notifications list.  

If you want to decrypt data on your MicroSD card, tap the Turn Off button at the bottom of the screen as you saw in Figure 11. Next, follow the steps on screen to decrypt the device; these steps are very similar to the steps you take to encrypt the device. When decryption is complete, you see the decrypted SD card icon at the left side of the status bar, which looks like a MicroSD card with an open lock next to it.

Return to the Security settings list by pressing the Back button.

Decrypt Your Device

If you decide that you don’t want to encrypt your data any longer, you can decrypt the device or your SD card by tapping Decrypt Device within the Security settings list. The Decrypt Device window appears that reminds you to keep the device plugged in during the decryption process.

When you’re ready to decrypt the Tab 3, tap the Decrypt Device button at the bottom of the screen. Next, tap the password you used to encrypt your Tab 3 within the Confirm Password field and then tap the Continue button. Finally, start the process by tapping the Decrypt Device button at the bottom of the confirmation screen.

Decryption may take an hour or more to complete, and the Decrypting screen shows you the status of the decryption process. To complete the process, you have to log back in to the Tab 3 by typing your password. The next time you visit the Security settings list within the Settings screen, you’ll see the Encrypt Device option in the list again.

Note that decrypting your device doesn’t mean you won’t have to enter a password any longer. You still need to enter a password whenever you turn on the Tab 3 or when you awaken the Tab 3 from sleep mode. You can change the screen lock type back to your preferred type in the Lock Screen settings list. You can learn more about changing the screen lock type in the online article Managing Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Security and the Lock Screen on the Que Publishing website.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to encrypt and decrypt the Tab 3, you can use the instructions in this article to encrypt your own device and help keep your data safe and sound.

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