We all keep a lot of data on our phones which is why it becomes extremely crucial to properly protect and safeguard your smartphone. iPhone and Android phones offer a number of ways to make smartphones secure which include PIN, passwords, fingerprint scans or facial recognition.
Facial Recognition was first introduced in 2016 when it was introduced in Galaxy Note 7. The next year, Apple introduced Face ID in iPhone X and from then on, facial recognition has been gaining traction in smartphones. 750 million smartphones in 2016 employed biometrics, representing 30% of the global smartphone installed base. By 2020, almost 100% of the smartphones in use will incorporate biometrics.
The reason why facial recognition is becoming so mainstream is its convenience. The software scans your facial features and identifies and verifies your identity. With just a single glance, your identity is verified without any need for PINs or passwords.
The odds that someone else can use Face ID to unlock your iPhone are very slim according to Apple. According to the company, the chance that a random person is able to unlock your phone or iPad using Face ID is one in one million.
There are some situations in which the use of facial recognition to secure your phone makes it a little tricky.
- You are forced by someone to log into your device by making you look at your phone.
- Law enforcement legally enforces you to unlock your mobile device.
- Facial recognition software can be fooled by a photo, mask or even a baseball cap.
In conclusion, facial recognition scan is fast and unlocks your phone with just a glance. But it’s not quite secure to use it especially if you have banking or payment apps on the phone. The current version of Face ID uses an infrared sensor to read a detailed 3D view of your face. As more research is being done, this will become more stable and secure but in its current form, using facial recognition may not be the best option.
Fingerprint scan is also a quite quick and convenient method of unlocking the phone. In this method, you only have to pick up the phone and place your finger over the sensor. Fingerprint sensors are remarkably secure and very easy to use. The reason fingerprint scans provide a lot of security is because
- No two fingerprints have identical characteristics which subsequently lessens the chances of false positives.
- Fingerprint scans are quick and easy to use. They only take a moment to identify or reject a fingerprint.
- With passwords, you have to come up with overly complicated combinations to make them more secure. You don’t have to save fingerprints or fear their loss.
- Fingerprints are collected as encrypted mathematical representations, not as images. This is why they are difficult to hack.
Fingerprint authentication has a number of advantages as listed above but it’s not foolproof. People can use other’s fingerprints to unlock a device and there have been related cases where children have used their sleeping parent’s fingerprints to unlock a device. It is also reported that fingerprints left on items such as a cup can be used to deceive fingerprint scanners.
Fingerprints are definitely fast and secure but the sensors aren’t always positioned in the right spot. Fingerprint scanners are becoming remarkably common as they bypass your lock screen so you can access your apps quicker.
PINs have been present since the beginning of smartphones and even before. Its a quite simple alternative to passwords as it’s very easy to enter compared to a password. A strong PIN can become difficult to remember as it requires more numbers.
In Android phones, PINs up to 16 digits can be used which equates to ten quadrillion combinations. Although a 16-digit PIN becomes remarkably secure, it also becomes extremely difficult to remember. This is why most people just use a 4-digit PIN which has ten thousand combinations. Even with ten thousand combinations, it’s highly unlikely that anyone can guess that as long as the PIN used is not something obvious like 5555 or 1234.
With all the advancements in technology, old methods of using passwords are still the most reliable ways to secure your phone. People may use the same password across many devices, sites and accounts. Smartphone users also tend to create PINs or passwords that are easy to remember. This is why what makes passwords convenient are the same reasons it makes them more susceptible to hackers. Hackers and scammers know that the majority of passwords are created from basic words or phrases and people use these passwords across various sites. This is why they become a security threat and the passwords are also vulnerable to being forgotten.
A strong password is remarkably secure but it’s not at all convenient to type a long and secure password number of times every day. So long passwords are needed when you require the highest level of security. Even with all the cons, passwords are still the most secure way of securing your phone. A password or even better, a passphrase can be difficult if not impossible to crack ensuring the safety of your smartphone.
A Combination Makes it More Secure Smartphone
Every method of locking your phone has its own set of weaknesses which makes the user think hard about the type of method they want to employ. According to the stats, a quarter of mobile devices don’t use any security technique at all.
In order to have the best protection for your mobile, don’t just rely on one method of securing your smartphone. It is best to use a combination of biometrics and PINs, passwords or passcodes in order to provide a supplementary layer of security in case if one fails or is compromised. This is called the 2 Factor Authentication and it goes a long way in protecting your smartphone.
You have to be vigilant while creating passwords for your phone and you should follow the following guidelines:
- The passwords shouldn’t be comprised of all letters or all digits.
- Use of letters, numbers, and special characteristics are encouraged.
- If possible, the PIN code should be longer than four digits. The longer, the better.
- Easy to guess information shouldn’t be used like name, address or birthdays.
Two-factor authentication surely adds a supplementary layer of security to your accounts. Biometric authentication coupled with PINs or passwords is a more reliable way to secure your smartphone. Facial recognition and iris scanning may become better with more technological advancements but for now, fingerprint scans backed up with a strong password or PIN code makes your smartphone secure.