Still Using Pattern Locks with Phones? Tips, Tricks and Helpful Advice
They have been along for a long, long time now – pattern locks – the easiest of all smartphone locks. You just swipe your finger across to create an easy pattern lock of your choosing and that’s it, it becomes your new screen lock. No more remembering tedious digits! So, why have these easy pattern locks become outdated, and why do people still continue to use them? Let’s take a dive and find out all about pattern locks.
Part I: Things To Know About Pattern Locks
The first cellphone locks were 4-digit number locks. Then came 6-digit codes, and even alphanumeric ones. Pattern locks were all the rage a while ago. Though pattern locks continue to be used, they are not considered safe to use any longer. What is all that about? Here’s what you need to know about pattern locks, whether you are a seasoned pattern lock user or not.
I.I: What Are Pattern Locks?
Believe it or not, technology has advanced at such a rapid pace in the last two decades that you’d be forgiven if you don’t know what a pattern lock is, especially if you have only ever used iPhones, or Android phones in just the last few years.
Pattern locks are patterns you create on your smartphone and designate as a smartphone lock/ screen lock. There is a 9-point keypad of sorts, and you start swiping your finger from any point to any point for any which way you feel like. Android 13 allows a minimum of 4 points registered. They are easy to create, and easy to use, hence called easy pattern locks.
Pattern locks have only ever been offered on Android devices and were commonplace a few years ago until they were deemed not secure enough for use by modern standards because they were easy to figure out by malicious actors.
I.II: Popularity and Usage
Pattern lock is a feature unique to Android and has been so since the start. Naturally, it is one of the preferred ways users have come to unlock their Android devices over the years. Even though modern Android smartphones come with fingerprint recognition and face recognition technologies, there exists a large subset of users still addicted to and acclimatized with the pattern lock feature, opting over fingerprint and face recognition.
There has been, however, research conducted into the safety and security offered by pattern lock in Android.
I.III: Advantages and Drawbacks
Modern smartphones very nearly contain the entirety of our lives; photo memories, video memories, important documents both financial and personal in nature, banking apps, ID and ATM/ credit cards in the “wallet” apps, and whatnot. A smartphone falling into the wrong hands could very nearly be used to devastate the rightful owner, both financially and otherwise. And this is not a claim out of thin air; spyware/ malware/ phishing attacks are on the rise around the world. Locking the smartphone, once considered optional and an unnecessary hassle, is now an absolute must.
Advantages of Pattern Locks
There is no denying that using an easy pattern lock to lock their smartphone seems enough for most users. Swiping your finger across your smartphone to unlock it feels not only cool and futuristic but safer and more secure than remembering and punching in digits. And, for the most part, it is true, given that 4-digit PINs can only have 10,000 unique combinations!
Disadvantages of Pattern Locks
While very easy to use, security researchers and experts have come to agree that the feature is not in the least safe to use, and that is because of how people use the pattern lock feature (discussed in detail below in part II). Some go so far as to say that most pattern locks can be breached in just 5 attempts or less. Imagine that!
What is more, research has found that humans have an uncanny ability to correctly guess a pattern lock simply by viewing the unlocking! The test comprised showing the test subjects videos of users unlocking their phones from different angles and varying distances, and it was found that around 64% of test subjects were able to correctly guess a 6-point pattern lock in one viewing only, and 80% could correctly guess the pattern after just two viewings. By contrast, only 11% were able to correctly deduce a 6-digit PIN after one viewing, and only 27% after viewing twice. This goes to show just how insecure pattern locks are!
Part II: How People Use Pattern Locks
We might wonder how anyone would be able to guess the correct pattern of our device, but believe it or not, it is possible, eerily easily at that! We are all the same humans, after all! You know how people usually set PINs that could be significant dates in their lives? How they get car registration numbers that mean something to them? The same ‘logic’ applies to their setting pattern locks.
At DEFCON 23, Marte Loge, an M.Sc. Computer Science student, presented something that stunned people around the world. She said, “Tell me who you are, and I will tell you your lock pattern.” What followed was an expert presentation outlining and detailing user behaviors around pattern locks.
These are some commonly created pattern locks by people:
- - shapes of alphabets,
- - shapes of numerals,
- - any other easy-to-make, simple shape.
Marte Loge presented the image below, showing how people naturally gravitate towards creating simple shape patterns, in her research.
To further help you see how easy it might be for anyone to guess your pattern, Marte Loge also presented some statistics.
- - 77% of people started their patterns in one of the 4 corners.
- - 44% of Loge’s subjects started their pattern with the first dot, the top-left one. The next number was 15% for the top-right and 14% for the bottom-left.
- - These percentages did not vary much depending on left-handedness or right-handedness.
- - On average, irrespective of gender, people set 5-point patterns, with 4-point patterns being the most common. This means that the number of combinations on average was 7152 for 5-point patterns and a bogglingly low 1624 for 4-point patterns.
The above data makes it amply clear how using an easy pattern lock is actually worse than using a 4-digit PIN, simply because how people are usually using the pattern lock feature.
Part III: Tips For Using More Secure Pattern Locks
Now, we know how hard it is to break habits cemented over years of use, so in case you must at all costs use a pattern lock only, the least you can do is try and change your easy pattern lock to a better, more secure hard pattern lock.
III.I: How to Create More Secure Patterns
Here are some tips to help you create a better, more secure pattern lock for your smartphone.
- - Avoid using any of the corners to start the pattern.
- - Never use your first initial as a pattern.
- - Never use a digit shape as a pattern.
- - You can pass through the same pattern lines multiple times over. This makes it more difficult for someone to guess your pattern correctly.
- - Use all 9 points on the grid while setting the pattern lock! That simple act takes the possible pattern combinations to over 140,000, significantly more than 10,000 for 4-digit PINs, and vastly superior to paltry 1624 for a 4-point easy pattern lock!
III.II: Forgot Your Pattern? Unlock Your Phone Without Pattern Lock With Dr.Fone
Supercharged with the information above, you went ahead and changed your easy pattern lock to a hard-to-guess pattern lock. Only problem is, your brain is habituated to that old pattern, and you’ve suddenly forgotten what the new pattern was! Well, worry not; Wondershare Dr.Fone - Screen Unlock (Android) will help you unlock your phone without pattern lock!
The Best Tool to Unlock Your Phone without Pattern Locks!
- Remove all Android screen locks (PIN/pattern/fingerprints/face ID) in minutes.
- Bypass the FRP lock of Samsung without a PIN or Google account.
- Everyone can handle the lock screen without any tech knowledge.
- Provide specific removal solutions to promise good success rate.
Download the newest version of Dr.Fone from the Wondershare website and launch the app.
Step 1: Go to Toolbox > Screen Unlock and click Android.
Step 2: Click Unlock Android Screen.
Step 3: You will see a list of supported manufacturers on the next screen. Select yours.
Step 4: Now, follow the onscreen guide to prepare your device for screen unlocking.
After completing the process, when the Next button becomes available, click it.
Your device will be successfully unlocked.
Note that this method wipes all data on the device. There is no way around it. You may be able to unlock select older Samsung devices without data loss. Check this list for those devices.
Pattern locks are outdated and not safe to use an easy pattern lock – there are no two ways about it. As such, our recommendation is to start using a 6-digit PIN along with biometric or face recognition. However, we do understand that sometimes, you simply cannot use biometrics or face recognition. For those instances, we recommend that you use this guide and create a more secure pattern lock for your device. In case you forgot your pattern, there is always Wondershare Dr.Fone – Screen Unlock (Android) to save the day.
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