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Why your phone's pattern lock may not be safe

siliconreview Why your phone's pattern lock may not be safe

Most of us use various security measures on our devices, ranging from a simple 4-digit pin code to a complex-looking pattern. Assuming it to be the safest, most users prefer the pattern as their security measure, but a new study by Lancaster University has revealed that complex patterns are extremely vulnerable and can be cracked within five attempts.

The report from Lancaster University claims that pattern locks in Android operating system can be breached with ease. The report stated, "the popular Pattern Lock system used to secure millions of Android phones can be cracked within just five attempts - and more complicated patterns are the easiest to crack, security experts reveal."

Using a video and computer vision algorithm software, an attacker can discreetly record the movement of your fingertips and produce five possible patterns that will unlock the device. With a functional range of around two and a half meters, the attacker won't even have to be in close proximity of the owner and the device.

The software tracks the fingertips of the owner relative to the position of the device. Regardless of any screen size, the software gives a 95 per cent success rate. The complexity of the pattern hardly affects the recognition of the software. In fact, a complex pattern narrows down the possibilities, leading to more accurate results.

The report stated, "During tests, researchers were able to crack all but one of the patterns categorized as complex within the first attempt. They were able to successfully crack 87.5 per cent of median complex patterns and 60 per cent of simple patterns with the first attempt."

Though there is no concrete fix for this invasion of privacy. There are certain steps that can keep you from leaking the pattern. Use other security measures like password/pins or fingerprint sensor. If the user still insists on using the pattern lock, she/he can hide their fingers while drawing the pattern. The researchers also shared that fluctuating screen brightness can confuse the algorithms of the software.