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New AI Can Crack Android Pattern Locks from Afar

While adding a pattern lock to your Android home screen can be an extra protection measure, these locks — like anything else — can be hacked.

Adding protection to your Android such as a pattern lock — you know, the screen where you trace a set pattern with your fingertip to gain access to your phone — is a smart measure to take. But If you want to further protect your device and information, use DFNDR’s Anti-Theft feature to block access to your phone in case of loss or theft:

Anti-Theft is a remote-control feature that lets you stop hackers from gaining access to your phone’s information. To use Anti-Theft, you can remotely lock down your phone, track your stolen phone’s location, sound an alarm, or even delete your apps and data. With this feature activated, your sensitive data will always be protected.

Read More: Your Phone Can be Hacked Even When it’s Offline

Did you know that it’s now possible for your pattern lock to be hacked? Although, this is very unlikely, cybercriminals are always going to find new ways to hack your devices. While this hack hasn’t necessarily been used by cybercriminals, researchers are studying how to stop it before it becomes more common.

What is Pattern Lock?

Pattern Lock replaced PIN passcodes on the Android OS. Instead, the system gives you nine dots on which you trace a pattern. Then, any time you want to unlock the phone, you re-trace the pattern you set.

How This New Hack Works

Hackers don’t have to see your Pattern Lock screen to replicate the pattern. Instead, researchers have used video and computer algorithm software to track the fingertip movement required to unlock the phone.

To hack the screen, researchers noted that the victim could be filmed using the hacker’s phone camera even from a great distance away. While the researchers used footage they’d filmed themselves, some worry that footage from security cameras could also be used in connection with the software algorithm. The computer algorithm was then applied to track the way the user’s fingertips moved to solve the pattern.

The researchers used 120 patterns to demonstrate the success of the hack. Android users can attempt to unlock the Pattern Lock screen five times before the phone is locked. In over 95% of trials, researchers studying the potential hack were able to unlock the phone within that five-try limit. Even users with complex patterns weren’t protected; researchers cracked the pattern on these screens 97.5% of the time.

How You Can Protect Yourself

To protect yourself from this hack, you should cover your hands when entering your passcode in public or else lower your screen brightness.