What’s the Best Form of Authentication on Your Mobile Device?
As smartphones have become smarter, they have become filled with more and more data that needs to be kept private for the owner’s safety and security. This is why it is fortunate that there are also more ways to secure a smartphone against unauthorized use. We’ll examine the many options to devise which is the most secure.
The old standby of authentication, a well-thought-out password can be an extremely effective security measure, but a password with little effort put into it can just as easily be a considerable security risk. Despite this, a password (or its cousin, the passphrase) can be the strongest security measure available for your mobile device. However, there is one major shortcoming to the password, in that it very quickly becomes tedious and inconvenient to enter each time your phone needs to be accessed.
Another option that many elect to use is the pattern lock, which allows the phone to be accessed only when the correct pattern is traced out on a three-by-three square. This natural and intuitive lock becomes a very quick way to access a phone once the user becomes accustomed to it, and if all nine dots are used in the pattern, provides close to 400,000 possible access codes. Unfortunately, the pattern lock falls short in a few ways. First, many people elect to use shapes that are easily guessed out of simplicity and convenience, and it is fairly simple for someone to simply watch one’s hand to ascertain the pattern they’re using.
Like a password, a PIN number is a relatively strong form of authentication, as the typical 4-digit option has over 10 thousand potential combinations. While this would admittedly be very difficult to remember, an Android device can be secured by a 16-digit PIN, boosting the number of potential codes to 10 quadrillion. However, there is a shortcoming to the PIN number, as many people may succumb to the temptation of, again, making an oversimplified PIN number that could potentially be guessed quite easily.
This unlock method has quickly become the preferred method to access a mobile device, and for good reason: not only is it secure enough to be trustworthy, it’s also quite fast. However, even this method has its weaknesses. For instance, the fingerprint scanner itself isn’t always positioned in the most convenient place on the phone itself. Furthermore, gloves make this method impossible to use.
Facial Recognition/Iris Scanning/Intelligent Scan
The way things are going, it is likely that this will soon become the preferred method of authenticating your identity to access a phone. However, in their current states, these methods just aren’t quite secure enough to safely authenticate things like purchases and other financial tasks with 100 percent confidence, although things are getting better as far as that goes.
Smart Lock - Other Security Measures
Many phones now also offer security features that rely on alternative forms of authentication. On-body detection keeps the device unlocked whenever it is being carried - regardless of who is carrying it. You can also teach a device to “trust” certain places, devices, and faces. Another option is to use the Google Assistant to unlock your phone by saying “Okay Google.” However, these features don’t serve your security very well, and are primarily for the sake of convenience.
So Which is Best?
The generally accepted school of thought is that, until face and iris scanning is more widely available and some of the wrinkles are ironed out, a fingerprint scan with a PIN or password backup is the safest route to take. Regardless, any form of authentication measure is better than nothing, so you will want to ensure that you have one in place.
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