Why it is Unsafe to Use Pattern Locks to Protect Your Smartphone

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When it comes to smartphone security, one of the first things that we recommend is to switch on the screen lock feature. A surprisingly large number of people are still using their phones without any kind of screen lock enabled and this is a major security loophole that leaves their devices and data open to thieves. In case of loss or theft of such devices, it is very simple then for a malicious party to access the phone and view or steal any data that he likes.

smartphone pattern lock

The different options available for locking the screen of a device are as follows, and all major smartphone manufacturers today provide these features.

  • Password – High security
  • PIN – Medium to high security
  • Fingerprint recognition – Medium to high security
  • Pattern – Medium security
  • Face and voice – Low security
  • Face unlock – Low security

A majority of people who do use the screen lock feature opt for the PATTERN functionality. This method of unlocking devices is fun, interactive and anyone who sets it up thinks it is pretty unique as well. However, the truth is that the pattern chosen by many people may not be that unique after all.

It has been discovered that the traces and patterns that we form for unlocking our phones are usually pretty easy to guess. At a recent PasswordsCon conference in Las Vegas, a Norwegian University of Science and Technology investigator showcased a study about these locking patterns and how little security they actually provide. Marte Løge, the investigator, studied around 4,000 user patterns to arrive at her conclusions.

Notable Findings about Pattern Locking

  1. In the 3×3 grid for setting the pattern, a maximum of 9 point traces can be used. But most people use much lesser.
  2. A majority of people only use 4 swipes for setting their pattern and this limits the total possible combinations to 1624.
  3. Around 44% of people start their patterns in the top-left corner. Moreover, 77% of patterns start in any one of the 4 corners.
  4. The pattern is also likely to go from left to right and from top to bottom. All these factors further reduce the number of possible combinations and this makes it easier for attackers to guess the potential patterns.

Some of the most common patterns that were seen to be used are as follows. So if you are using any of these as your screen lock patterns, it is highly recommended that you change it as soon as possible.

smartphone pattern security

Furthermore, we also recommend that you use the PASSWORD feature to unlock your smartphone. It goes without saying that the password you choose should be a strong one as well. It should consist of at least 8 characters; have at least one number, at least one CAPITAL alphabet and at least one special character. This will make your smartphone close to impossible to unlock even if someone does get their hands on it.

Moreover, you should also use the Anti-Theft feature of mobile security solutions. This feature will enable you to remotely locate, lock or wipe your stolen smartphone. Taking the right steps and precautions to protect your assets is something that cannot be taken lightly anymore.

Rahul Thadani

Rahul Thadani

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Ramachandran Nair
Ramachandran Nair
5 years ago

Good Advice…..Thanks…..

Aditya Krishnakumar
Aditya Krishnakumar
5 years ago

If in dev options if usb debugging is enabled, then anyone with a PC(with adb) and a USB cable can hack into your phone (PASSWORDS and PATTERNS also !)

Kumar Abhinav
Kumar Abhinav
5 years ago

That’s quite a nice article!
But no matter how strong your password is, if someone with some knowledge of adb gets their hands on your device,and your device has USB Debugging enabled, then no matter how strong your password is, they can break right through it,without even having to guess your password! The only thing one can do is to make sure they turn off USB Debugging from Developer Options on their phone and turn it on only when necessary. Those who don’t know what that means,you’re quite safe already 😀

ashok dewan
ashok dewan
5 years ago

Most revealing.
Thank you,
Ashok Dewan

PALASH SHAH
PALASH SHAH
5 years ago

VERY INFORMATIVE ARTICLE ABOUT Pattern Locking.
PL SUGGEST GOOD MOBILE ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE FOR ANDROID MOBILE.

samuel
samuel
5 years ago
Reply to  Rajib Singha

the quick heal total security does not support my phone and the model no of my phone is not available in the list. and I’ve try some five phone but its not working. if you can pls help me out in this i will very much appreciate. is there any-others options? do pls reply me, my email id.erikaustin18@gmail.com

geeta singh
geeta singh
5 years ago

useful..xoxo

harshad
harshad
5 years ago

Sir,
No doubt it is a good observation but you should mention, how can one protect smart phone effectivly.
Please do write an article on smart way to protect your smart phone and the data contains.
Thank you and regards,
Harshad

pravin jain
pravin jain
5 years ago

thanks a lot for your very important information.

Chetan Nachane
Chetan Nachane
5 years ago

Thank you for the information.

After reading this, one question arose , which is :

Most of the data is on memory card.In case the phone is stolen and I have taken care to have a strong password, what about the data on the card?

How can I secure this data ,also? Or is it vulnerable without any means for security?

ASHITAVA GHOSE
ASHITAVA GHOSE
5 years ago

Worth Reading !

Thanks !!!

SAIKAT SEN
SAIKAT SEN
5 years ago

I WANT TO SAFE MY LAPTOP AND MOBILE FROM VIROUS

Yash
Yash
5 years ago

Thanks for the information. This is the very reason that I prefer a fingerprint lock on my phone over any other type of lock and also as there is no hassle of forgetting it like it is in the case of passwords or patterns.

jawahar patel
jawahar patel
5 years ago

Good suggestions made.

Rahul Anand
Rahul Anand
5 years ago

I use Fingerprint recognition in my iPhone6. Isn’t that security enough to keep my data safe.

Faijul Islam
Faijul Islam
5 years ago

Quick Heal anti virus is good.

nitesh kumar
nitesh kumar
5 years ago

safe in all parts

sahadev chauhan
sahadev chauhan
5 years ago

good

NAGRAJ KODLEKERE
NAGRAJ KODLEKERE
5 years ago

What you said is correct. I too was using a pattern lock some time back and found it useful as my children could not open my smart phone. But then one of my friend told me that if I meet with an accident, or if I lose the phone, and the person wants to contact me or my family member, how can he do it when I have locked my phone with a pattern lock?

So I removed the pattern lock and now it just has a slide lock.

Suggest what other option do I have for this situation.

Akshay
Akshay
5 years ago

For Android users, The owner’s information can be stored on locked screen. When you switch on the phone, it displays the data stored by you including all personal details. To do this-
Settings>Device>Lock screen>owner info (Fill in whats ever data you want to display when the phone is locked but switched on)

RAJEEV KUMAR
RAJEEV KUMAR
5 years ago

good suggestions so thanks

jignesh oza
jignesh oza
5 years ago

Rahul, very helpful info.. thanks

Achar vidya
Achar vidya
5 years ago

Thanks for valuable advice.

karan singh
karan singh
5 years ago

It is not helpful for me… bec i used hi security pattern loc.

Hariom Maurya
Hariom Maurya
5 years ago

Quick Heal anti virus pro is the best

Bhagawan Kishore Kumar
Bhagawan Kishore Kumar
5 years ago

Excellent advice

SHAMAL
SHAMAL
5 years ago

Sir, Good information. But my opinion is to keep the screen without any locks while travelling / driving. I am saying this b’coz, one of my friend met an accident while driving & felt unconscious. Passerby took him to hospital & they were unable to contact his friends / relatives as his cell phone screen was kept locked. He was travelling from Kerala to Bangalore alone in his car. Due to out station driving license & number plate, local police took nearly one whole day & night to get in touch with his relatives. Luckily, my friend is safe now… Read more »

MUNNALAL AGARWAL
MUNNALAL AGARWAL
5 years ago

VERY GOOD ADVICE.
I SURE SHARE THIS TO MY ALL FRIENDS AND RELATIVES.

Akshay
Akshay
5 years ago

Nicr app’s

Gerald Adams
Gerald Adams
4 years ago

Rahul, great tip! It’s really helpful. This may be out of the topic but do you know some ways to unlock a phone? Right now I’m asking the help of Debloquer Telephone to unlock my phone

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