Android Users: How Your Pattern Lock Can Be Cracked in Only 5 Tries

Media Division | February 1, 2017

The tools and methods that hackers employ in attempts to breach confidential or privileged information seem to become more sophisticated every day.  From malware, to automated software that can breach device security, the possibilities can seem endless sometimes.  A recently discovered security vulnerability has displayed that the pattern lock on Android phones can be cracked quite easily.

There are a massive amount of individuals who use the pattern lock to protect their phone.  It provides a simple enough lock that their data is protected, but they do not have to enter some long character password.  But according to new research from Lancaster University, Northwest University in China, and the University of Bath, it turns out this pattern lock may not be near as secure as many think it is.  It has been found that by simply videoing a person unlocking their phone, there is software available to hackers that can crack the code within five attempts purely from this footage.

The software is able to track the finger movements of the video, and offer a series of patterns that it could likely be.  According to an article from, “The attack works even without the video footage being able to see any of the on-screen content, and regardless of the size of the screen. Results are accurate on video recorded on a mobile phone from up to two and a half meters away – and so attacks are more covert than shoulder-surfing. It also works reliably with footage recorded on a digital SLR camera at distances up to nine meters away.”  So, in a cafe or shop, a hacker sitting several feet away can covertly record you unlocking your phone, and figure out the Pattern Lock with this software.

Complex Patterns Do Not Protect Any Better

The research even displayed that the use of complex Pattern Locks do not make it any more difficult for this software to crack, but rather makes it easier. PHYS states, “Complex patterns, which use more lines between dots, are used by many to make it harder for observers to replicate. However, researchers found that these complex shapes were easier to crack because they help the fingertip algorithm to narrow down the possible options.”  In fact, the researchers were able to crack 87.5% of the median complex patterns, and 60% of simple patterns within one attempt.

How to Defend Your Information

With pattern locks not being as secure as one would believe, it is important that individuals know how to defend their device.  Some methods to do so could include:

● Cover Your Screen – If the pattern lock still seems like the best option, you can always obscure your screen with your other hand as you enter in your pattern, as  this prevents it from being recorded.

● Save Wisely – With not being able to rely on Pattern Locks to completely protect your data, ensure that you are careful about what you store on your phone.

● Opt for a Different Lock – Many phones will also offer the ability to set a character password or pin.  These can add additional security to your device.

Further Security with Private Intelligence Services

Depending on what is stored on your device, you may want to bolster security even further.  There is always the option of employing private intelligence services, which would allow potential threats to be discovered and prevented.  Both individuals and businesses often have valuable information and assets that need defending.  Private intelligence services from Massive Alliance can assist in ensuring the protection of your information.

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