We all know that passwords such as ‘12345’ and ‘password1’ are far from secure, but how about your lock screen pattern for your smartphone? A study shows that most of us use similar patterns to unlock our handsets, meaning they could be easily guessed by criminals.
She found that around 10 per cent of patterns create a letter, such as an N or C, which more often than not corresponded to a user's own name, or that of a loved one, Ars Technica reported. She presented her findings into Android lock patterns, which were introduced in 2008, at PasswordCon in Las Vegas last week.
Ms Løge sampled 4,000 user-generated Android lock patterns as part of her thesis. She asked study participants to create three Android lock patterns – one for an imaginary shopping app, another for a fake banking app and one to unlock a phone.
She found that most people chose to create a pattern that travelled through the minimum amount of nodes of spots – four – making their pattern much less secure than if they opted for the maximum number of nodes. The average number of nodes used was five, meaning there were less than 8,000 possible pattern combinations, but this dropped to just 1,624 for four node patterns.
Ms Løge found that most people chose patterns that moved from left to right, making guessing combinations slightly easier.
Men were more likely than women to choose long and complicated patterns, but interestingly there was little difference between the patterns chosen by right-handed and left-handed participants.
‘Humans are predictable,’ Ms Løge told Ars. ‘We're seeing the same aspects used when creating a pattern locks [as are used in] pin codes and alphanumeric passwords.’
She believes that using 'crossovers' to bamboozle onlookers and not starting from a corner produces the safest password patterns. Using a long and complex password is also unsurprisingly more secure.