Why is it unsafe to use Pattern Locks on a Smartphone?

There was a time, long ago, when a phone's sole purpose was to allow us to make calls, send a few texts, and play Snake. However, now that so much of our data-rich lives are contained within the shells of our smartphones, it's more crucial than ever to keep all of our phones safe. Thankfully, locking your phone is now so simple that everyone should do it.

Smartphone makers are increasingly incorporating biometric security methods such as Face ID and iris scanning into Android and iOS smartphones, in addition to passcodes, passwords, and patterns, to provide consumers with a faster, more comfortable means of unlocking their phone.

Best Defense against Phone’s Biometric Unlocking

Passcodes, PINs, passphrases, and patterns serve as the first line of defenses against biometric unlocking technologies. However, not all of these solutions are safe. While no security measure is perfect, the passcode or PIN appears to be the best defense against intruders attempting to obtain access to your phone. On iOS devices, passcode is encrypted and stored in the processors’ secure enclave,' as Apple calls it. Apple's high wall of encryption was the source of a high-profile conflict with the FBI in 2016 when the corporation refused to develop an encryption backdoor into its products.

Apple has no method of reading or altering information saved in the enclave. When you input your passcode, iOS checks with the enclave to see if what you've entered matches what it has in its knowledge base and if it does, you get access. Because of where the passcode is kept, no one can see it.

It's unlikely that a hacker will have rapid access to your face, fingerprints, or iris. Even if they did, all they'd need is your passcode to have access to your phone, not your biometrics. That is why it is more critical to ensure that the smartphone's last line of defence is effective. So, how can you ensure that your PIN or passcode is as safe as possible?

So, the most practical strategy to make your phone safer is to avoid the most frequent PIN numbers and passcodes. This includes not linking it to something obvious, such as birth dates. While you would think that six-digit passcodes and PINs are more secure than four-digit passcodes and PINs, this may not be the case.

Never Use Password with a Pattern

Instead of a passcode, password, or PIN, Android users can use a pattern password to unlock their phones. However, it turns out that this is the least secure method of phone locking.

Researchers discovered that when participants saw a video of someone inputting a pattern to unlock their phone just once, they were able to memorize and repeat it 64% of the time. If the person viewed it many times, the percentage increased to 80%.

The study duplicated a typical password-copying technique known as shoulder-surfing, in which an attacker covertly observes someone type their password. This, according to the authors, is owing to the fact that a pictorial pattern is simpler to memorize than a bunch of random integers. If you absolutely must utilize a pattern, there are a few tactics you may do to ensure that it is secure, such as beginning from various spots.

Many people like the pattern password since it is simple to remember, much to how individuals generate patterns on keys like '2580' when using a PIN code or a passcode. It just adds another layer of information to your data. However, this is a horrible concept since it makes shoulder surfing assaults predictable and easier to spot. This, according to the authors, is owing to the fact that a pictorial pattern is simpler to memorize than a bunch of random integers.

How to Choose Better Pattern Locks?

Stop providing data for researchers to evaluate. Remember, these gadgets contain your entire digital existence; we shouldn't entrust it to a simple pattern.

  • Don't make a pattern out of your first initial. Seriously, that's like putting your birth date on your bank card PIN. That's an emphatic no!

  • We oversimplify our security by forgetting that Android lock pattern lines can overlap. An adversary will have a tougher time predicting your pattern if you have more crossings.

  • Make your designs as long as possible! You have the option of using up to 9 nodes! Why do we keep coming back to 4-5? In fact, you can get away with utilizing only 8 nodes while still having the same number of viable combinations as if you used 9.

  • Of course, attempt the reverse of the above-mentioned prevalent pattern behaviors. Avoid the typical top-left period by starting your pattern from a node that is not in a corner.

Some of the most common lock pattern mistakes are listed below −

  • 44% of people begin their patterns with the dot in the top-left corner.

  • 77% of people began their patterns at one of the corners.

  • The majority of users only utilise five nodes, while a considerable number just use four.

  • The form of a letter was used in over 10% of lock configurations (often representing the first initial of the person or a loved one).

Updated on: 18-Apr-2022


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