The Pattern lock system employed on Android devices may not be as impenetrable as mobile users may have first thought.
That’s according to new research from Lancaster University, Northwest University in China, and the University of Bath, which claims hackers could be able to crack the Pattern Long in as few as five attempts.
It’s all down to advanced video and computer vision algorithm software, which is capable of covertly recording a users’ hand movements while also drawing their pattern lock.
Meanwhile, the hacker is able to use software to track the user’s fingertip movements relative to the position of the device.
The researchers tested out the attack using 120 unique patterns from some 215 android phone users and found, astonishingly, that 95 per cent of patterns were discovered within five attempts.
More worryingly, the researchers were able to reconstruct patterns using a smartphone camera positioned two-and-a-half metres away or, worse still, from as far as nine meters away using a digital SLR camera.
Dr Zheng Wang, co-author of the paper and Lecturer at Lancaster University, said:
“Pattern Lock is a very popular protection method for Android Devices. As well as for locking their devices, people tend to use complex patterns for important financial transactions such as online banking and shopping because they believe it is a secure system.
“However, our findings suggest that using pattern lock to protect sensitive information could actually be very risky.”
The study also revealed that the more complex Pattern Lock combinations were actually easier to crack because they allowed the fingertip algorithm employed to further narrow down the options.
In these instances, 97.5 per cent were unlocked in the first attempt, compared with 60 per cent when it came to more simplistic patterns.
The main advice for anyone worried about this revelation is simple enough though – just cover your fingers when drawing a pattern.
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.