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Your smartphone lockscreen combo is way too easy to guess

Your smartphone lockscreen combo is way too easy to guess
image courtesy of Marte Løge/ arstechnica

Do you use an Android phone? Android offers you the option to protect your phone with a pattern instead of a PIN or password. A lot of folks look at it as more convenient and touch-friendly than a password, and more secure than a PIN.

But there's a problem. Most people's Android Lock Patterns (ALPs) are way too predictable. An ALP is the snake-like code you can create on an Android that replaces a traditional four-digit passcode.

This report is all thanks to Marte Løge, a 2015 graduate of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. In her master's thesis, Løge found that people do not take advantage of their gadget's password capabilities in the slightest.

Løge discovered that of the 4,000 ALPs she analyzed, over 40% of them started in the top left-most part of the screen. More surprising than that, over 77% of users started their ALPs in one of the four corners of the screen.

Another surprising aspect of Løge's study is that even though there are nine possible nodes (circular buttons as seen in the image above) to use in an ALP, most people only use five. This means that of the 389,112 possible combinations, that dwindles the list to less than 9,000.

"Humans are predictable," Løge told Ars Technica. "We're seeing the same aspects used when creating a pattern locks [as are used in] pin codes and alphanumeric passwords."

The first thing Løge suggests when trying to beef up your ALP is to create one that uses six or more nodes. The second tip is to use crossovers like the image seen below to make it even harder for someone to guess, and the third trick to creating an impenetrable passcode is to turn off the "make pattern visible" option.

New data uncovers the surprising predictability of Android lock patterns   Ars Technica

Turning that off will stop your Android from drawing the connecting lines from one node to another, making it that much harder for someone looking over your shoulder to remember the path you just entered. To turn this off go to your main Settings page >> Security >> uncheck "Make pattern visible" option.

Now you'll have an ALP that is actually going to protect your Android from snoopers and strangers.

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Source: Ars Technica
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