For most people, a smart phone or tablet is a lifeline to the rest of the world. It keeps things like contacts, notes, text messages, to-do list, photos, and personal information at your fingertips. Unfortunately, all of that accessibility means that anyone who happens to get their hands on your phone also has access to your most sensitive information. If you have links or apps to your things like your bank account, email, or work information, this could spell disaster for your personal and financial information.
Luckily, Android devices come with several built-in options for keeping your information out of prying hands, even if they do manage to snag your phone or tablet. Accessing these security options from the home screen is simple. Start at Device Settings, and then select Location and Security. From there, you can tap on Set Up Screen Lock. You’re now ready to choose from the different ways you want to lock your phone.
Before choosing your method for locking your device, you’ll want to decide how long your screen is accessible before the screen lock sets in. The options vary from immediately upon the screen shutting down to 20 minutes later. If you don’t keep a lot of personal info on your phone, or if you send a receive a lot of calls, tweets and text messages, you might want to go with a longer lock time to avoid having to constantly input your pin or password. On the other hand, if your phone is full of sensitive information, you might want to engage the lock screen immediately. Most people fall somewhere in between, and roughly 5 minutes is usually ideal. Next, you can select the way you want to unlock your phone.
Password Lock Screen
If you’re looking for a lock screen with the highest level of security, the password option is what you want. Android passwords work just like the passwords you already have in place in your email, Twitter, banking and Facebook accounts. You have the option of using letters, numbers and special characters. Your password must be between four and sixteen characters long, and is case sensitive.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to enter your password every single time you need to get to your apps, texts and phone messages. The longer the password, the more hassle – but the higher the security. This is a good option for those with a lot of personal or sensitive information stored on their phone.
A good middle-of-the-road option for your lock screen is the personal identification number, or PIN. Similar to your ATM card, your device PIN is a series of four to sixteen digits that must be entered in a specific order. Unlike the password option, a PIN lock screen only lets you use numerical digits to create your code. Of course, the longer the PIN, the more difficult for a third party to guess it. But like a password, longer PIN numbers are also more of an inconvenience when you want to reply to an email or text message.
The final option for your Android lock screen is the pattern lock. This method is one that Android brought to the device market a few years ago. Instead of entering a PIN or password, the pattern lock allows you to make a pattern on your screen using a grid of connecting dots. This is certainly the fastest way to get to your information, and because there are no numbers or letters involved, it can make it quite difficult for someone to guess your code. A word of caution, though – if you use the pattern lock, ensure that you keep your screen clean and change your screen protector fairly often. Otherwise, your finger smudges can give away your password to someone who happens to get their hands on your phone.