What is the use of encapsulation when I'm able to change the property values with setter methods?

Assume you have an age property.

The user can enter a value of -10, which although is a valid number, is an invalid age. A setter method could have logic which would allow you to catch such things.

Another scenario, would be to have the age field, but hide it. You could also have a Date of Birth field, and in it's setter you would have something like so:

private int age
private Date dob

public void setDateOfBirth(Date dob)
    this.dob = dob;
    age = ... //some logic to calculate the age from the Date of Birth.

I have also been confused like you too for a long time until I read the book Encapsulation and Inheritance in Object-Oriented Programming Language and a website that explained the importance of Encapsulation. I was actually directed from the website to the book.

People always say encapsulation is "hiding of information" therefore, maybe, making encapsulation focus on security as the main use. Yes you are hiding information in practice, but that should not be the definition as it could confuse people.

Encapsulation is simply "minimizing inter-dependencies among separately-written modules by defining strict external interfaces" (quoting from the book). That is to say that when I am building a module, I want a strict contract between my clients and me on how they can access my module. Reason being that, I can improve the inner workings without it AFFECTING my client's, life, application or whatever they are using my module for. Because their "module" does not exactly depend on the Inner workings of my module but depends on the "external interface", I made available to them.

So, if I don't provide my client with a setter and give them direct access to a variable, and I realize that I need to set some restriction on the variable before my client could use it, me changing it, could be me, changing the life of my client, or application of my client with HUGE EXPENSE. But if I provided the "strict contract" by creating a "strict external interface" i.e setter, then I can easily change my inner workings with very little or no expense to my clients.

In the setter situation (using encapsulation), if it happens that when you set a variable, and I return a message informing you that it has been assigned, now I could send a message via my "interface", informing my client of the new way my module have to be interacted with, i.e "You cannot assign negative numbers" that is if my clients try to assign negative number. But if I did not use encapsulation, and gave my client direct access to a variable and I do my changes, it could result in a crashed system. Because if the restriction I implemented, is that, you could not save negatives and my client have always been able to store negatives, my clients will have a crashed system in their hands (if that "crashed system" was a banking system, imagine what could happen).

So, encapsulation is more about reducing dependency between module, and an improvement can be made "quietly" with little or no expense to other modules interacting with it, than it is of security. Because the interacting modules depend on the "strict external interface or strict contract".

I hope this explains it properly. If not you could go the links below and read for yourself.

encapsulation matters

Encapsulation and Inheritance in Object-Oriented Programming Languages

The real use of encapsulation is also in the fact that you can do additional checks/processing on the way the values are set.