How secure is your smartphone?

Research shows that not all screen locks are as effective as each other...

Smartphones play a key role in our day to day lives. They've come to replace our cameras, computers, photo albums and so much more. Anyone who has lost their phone will understand and appreciate the fear associated with that loss. 

While there's certain things you can do to try and find your phone, your first line of defence is always the lock on your home screen.

Do you have a pin or a pattern? Do you opt for the password option, or leave it unlocked?

New research shows that owners of Android device are better off locking their phones with a pin or password as 95% of lock patterns can be guessed within five attempts. 

A team of researchers from Lancaster University, the University of Bath and Northwest University in China found that 95% of 120 unique lock patterns could be cracked using video recordings and computer vision algorithm software. 

Phone thieves don't need to be near users as they unlock their phone to work out the pattern. The researchers claim if a thief sits within 2.5 meters of the phone, they can film the handset as it is unlocked. This footage is then fed into a piece of finger movement tracking software, which produces a small set of possible patterns. 

The team also say that complex patterns don't eliminate the issue either. 

“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,” said Lancaster University’s Dr Zheng Wang, the principle investigator and co-author of the paper. “However, our findings suggest that using Pattern Lock to protect sensitive information could actually be very risky.”

It's recommended that users use a PIN or a password.