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Here is Why Pattern Locks for Your Phone Are Unsafe

by Roveen

If you’ve ever used a smartphone, then you are aware of the various ways in which you can lock them to deny access to any person you might not want to see it.

Among the options is the use of patterns to unlock the device. It is understandable why many people will choose this type of lock – it is convenient and doesn’t require you memorizing random numbers like a Pin lock.

But what if I told you that pattern unlock is very unsafe? Below are some reasons why pattern unlock is an unsafe way to lock your device and what options you should use instead.

Fewer Pattern Combinations

The pattern lock will often be on a 3×3 grid, with nine dots in total. However, once the path starts, the options are limited. In total, there are just under 400,000 possible combinations.

In comparison, a 6-digit Pin has one million possible combinations. A 6-character password, with uppercase letters and numbers, has combinations reaching in the billions.

So, in this regard, pattern unlock is very easy to hack into.

Fingerprint Smudges Reveal Your Pattern

Do, something for me – if you are using a pattern unlock, turn off your screen and then, breathe onto the screen. You will see a vague outline of the path your finger leaves when drawing the pattern. Or, if you angle it towards light in a certain way, you can see the smudges.

Anyone who takes your phone would easily use the outline to draw your pattern. In fact, a study (PDF) by University of Pennsylvania found that, under ideal conditions, guessing pattern passwords through smudges was successful 68% of the time.

Easy to Spy on the Pattern

Another thing about pattern is that, the motions of your finger can make it easy for someone to spy over your shoulder and easily memorize it. This is true even from a distant.

Anyone catching a glimpse of your screen could potentially learn your pattern with a simple glance. PIN and letter passwords make it hard for someone to easily understand because of the variety of finger movements needed for those passwords.

What are the Alternatives?

Setting up a 6-digit PIN or a password is the best way. Sure, it takes a lot of letters, numbers, and symbols and requires strong memory, but that is exactly what makes them very safe.

Biometric options such as face or fingerprint scanner are also safer, because no other person has your exact fingerprint or facial structure nuances.

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