Smartphone Unlock Screens Have Increasingly Insecure Interfaces
As technology progresses, a growing number of smartphone unlock screens seem to sport beautiful animations that highlight characters as they are entered. While such a feature may improve usability by making it simpler for users to be sure that they have typed their passwords correctly, it also makes it much easier for people to “shoulder surf” and see people’s passwords as they are entered.
As such, it would be wise for smartphone, tablet, and other computing-device and operating-system manufacturers that employ such animations to offer a simple way to turn off unlock screen animations, without disabling animations in general on the device.
For similar reasons, relevant vendors should provide users with a simple way to both prevent password characters from being displayed 1-by-1 as they are typed, as well as to cause a random number of stars, rather than just one star, to display for each character typed – replacing each character with a single star, as is done on today’s devices – reveals to all onlookers the length of the password in use, which may help someone guess or crack it.
The following is a clear example of animations that make it easy for people to see what password a user enters as he or she unlocks a smartphone.