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Stop unlocking your smartphone this way, it's not safe

Stop unlocking your smartphone this way, it's not safe
© ProductionPerig | Dreamstime

Android vs. iPhone, which phone is more secure? The two have been battling it out for years trying to answer that question.

A recent study might finally give us the answer we've been looking for. No matter which gadget you have, you definitely need to stop unlocking your phone this particular way. It's incredibly unsecure.

Why your gadgets' security might be at risk

If you are an Android phone owner, you might be using the Pattern Lock system instead of a PIN code or password to secure it. It's the popular system where you draw a pre-selected pattern on a grid of dots to unlock your phone.

The reason this system is popular is due to its convenience, and ease of use. It's simply a quicker way to unlock your phone.

The problem with using a pattern lock system is it's extremely unsecure. A recent study by the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Maryland Baltimore County shows anyone looking over your shoulder can steal your pattern while you enter it.

The study found two out of three observers from six feet or less away can recreate the pattern after only seeing it once. That number jumps to an 80 percent success rate after seeing the pattern entered twice.

On the other hand, iPhone users who implement a six-digit PIN code are much more secure. The study found that only about 10 percent of people watching someone enter their PIN from six feet or less away could recreate it. Only 27 percent could recreate the PIN after seeing it entered twice.

How to make Android's Pattern Lock system more secure

If you happen to love the Android pattern lock system, there is one way to make it a little more protected. You must turn off the "feedback" lines that show your finger's path as you enter in the pattern. Only 35 percent of those participating in the study could recreate the pattern once the feedback lines were turned off.

Here are the steps to turn off feedback lines on Android: Go to Settings >> Lock screen and security >> Secure lock settings >> turn off the Make pattern visible option. (Note: These steps could be different depending on your Android model. If so, check your phone's user manual.)

Whether you're using a password, PIN, or pattern lock system, you should also take this really simple security step. Cover your hand when unlocking your gadget, just like you do when entering your PIN at an ATM or gas station. It's super easy to do and will keep snoops from recreating your code.

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