4 Tips for a More Secure Lock Screen

By David Nield on at

The lock screen on your phone and tablet is all that stands in the way of an unwanted visitor and everything in your digital life, so best be sure there are as few chinks in the armour as possible. Here are the settings on the latest versions of Android and iOS to be aware of if you want to make sure your lock screen is in lockdown mode.

Choose a Longer PIN or Pattern

You obviously have a PIN code or pattern protecting your device, right? But there’s bad news: Your PIN or pattern of choice probably isn’t as secure as you think it is. On Android, choose a more unpredictable pattern or create a longer PIN (up to 16 digits) and your chances of staying protected are much better.

4 Tips for a More Secure Lock Screen

On iOS you can go beyond the standard four-digit PIN by going into General and Touch ID & Passcode from Settings and then disabling the Simple Passcode option—this lets you enter a longer, alphanumeric PIN. For the most complete security, activate Touch ID if you can (native fingerprint sensing tech is coming to Android Marshmallow too).

Set a Shorter Timeout

Whatever type of device you’re using, there’s going to be a timeout period before the lock screen is activated, and the shorter this is the more secure your phone or tablet (even if it’s a pain to have to enter your PIN code more often—you’ve always wanted to cut down on the number of times you check your mobile, haven’t you?).

4 Tips for a More Secure Lock Screen

On Android the relevant setting is under Display in Settings; via the Security menu you can also set how quickly the lock screen activates after the timeout period and require a PIN after a reboot (on Lollipop). On iOS, you go to the Settings app and open up the Auto-Lock menu on the General page.

Disable Siri on the Lock Screen

If you’re using an iPhone or an iPad then you can get at Siri from the lock screen, pulling up weather reports, making calls, displaying your calendar and so on... and if you can do it, then so can anyone else who happens across your device and picks it up, without going through the process of unlocking it.

4 Tips for a More Secure Lock Screen

It’s not a disaster if someone else gets access to Siri but you might want to switch it off nevertheless: From the Touch ID & Passcode entry in the Settings app, you’ll see there are a list of features that iOS allows access to when the device is unlocked—toggle the Siri switch to off as well as applying any other blocks you want to make (like the Notifications View).

Hide Sensitive Notifications

There’s no Siri on Android but you do have notification previews on the lock screen in Android 5.0 Lollipop—the idea is you can quickly take a glance at what’s happening and who’s trying to reach you without having to unlock your phone. However, you might not necessarily want this information visible to the wider world.

4 Tips for a More Secure Lock Screen

From the Sound & notification heading in Settings, tap When device is locked and then tap Hide sensitive notification content to turn off most of the previews. If you want to take more control over what’s considered sensitive and what isn’t, choose the App notifications entry directly underneath.

[Header image courtesy of ymgerman/Shutterstock.com]


This article originally appeared on Field Guide, Gizmodo's blog on how to get the best out of your tech