On the face of it, that seems to make a lot of sense. After all, given the number of high profile data breaches we’ve seen in recent years, it seems clear enough that standard text-based passwords have real issues. A March 2012 Wired article stated, “Pattern-screen locks on Android phones are secure, apparently so much so that they have stumped the Federal Bureau of Investigation..” That’s the entire reason that new security schemes like two-factor authentication and the like have risen in prominence.
Unfortunately, new research from a consortium of universities including Lancaster University, northwest University in China and the University of Bath have concluded that pattern locking is, in most cases, significantly less secure than a text-based password.Based on their research, which included secretly videotaping people unlocking their phones, they discovered that most people tended to use the same basic patterns. What this means from a practical standpoint is that if you use pattern locking, your supposedly secure pattern can be successfully guessed 95% of the time within five tries or less.
Everyone in the industry understands the pressing need for better and more advanced security, which, again, explains the rise of new password protection schemes that we’ve seen in recent years.
Unfortunately, this is essentially a process of trial and error. Some new ideas will work well, and others will backfire and wind up being less secure than what we have right now.
That certainly seems to be the case with the pattern locking. This seemingly great idea looked like it would be more secure on paper, but in the real world, it turned out to be significantly less secure.
The bottom line is that if you’re currently using the pattern locking mechanism to secure your device, it isn’t as well protected as you probably think it is. Lee Mathews, Forbes says, “Your Android Pattern Lock Could Be Incredibly Easy To Crack.”