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Trident Scholar Program
Trident Scholar Program

MIDN 1/C Timothy J. Forman - 26th Company

Improving the Security of Android Unlock Patterns Using New Iterations of the Standard Pattern Lock Interface

Adviser:  Associate Professor Daniel S. Roche, Computer Science Department
External Adviser:  Associate Professor Adam J. Aviv, George Washington University
Major:  Computer Science

Android mobile devices employ a unique method of authentication in the form of a single-stroke graphical pattern on a 3x3 grid, which a user is required to create and recall. We sought to explore improved iterations of this interface in the pursuit of guiding users towards creating more secure patterns. Within the past five years, Mobile Authentication methods have continually progressed towards creating a more secure means to safeguard a mobile device. Such methods now include biometric identification, system assisted password guidance via blacklists, and longer minimum passcode lengths. While many methods have progressed, the standard authentication interface for Android devices remains similar in comparison to its initial model.

We explored the effects of changing the existing Pattern Lock interface in our experiment, and subsequently compared the results of each iteration to measure the effectiveness of the individually altered interfaces. With this structure of our study, we studied the methodologies by which users chose their patterns using the Android Pattern Lock interface, and the decisions they made within the confines of the ruleset that defines each new interface. Our goal was to create more secure iterations of the standard Pattern Lock interface and study the choices users made with the new models, with the expectation that the patterns chosen using our interfaces would have a higher level of entropy and complexity, inherently making them more secure.

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