Join Nick Brazzi for an in-depth discussion in this video Setting up a screen lock, part of Learning Android Phone and Tablet Security.
- By default, unless I’ve changed some settings, this is what it looks like when I wake up my Android phone. This is the lock screen. And to access my phone, all I need to do is swipe up on the screen with my finger, and now the phone is completely accessible. So here’s the problem: Anybody can do that. If somebody steals my phone they can access any of the content that I have on it. So at the very least, you should secure your lock screen with some sort of passcode so it’s not so easy to access your data. To do that, I’m gonna go into the app chooser and I’m gonna look for ‘Settings.’ Here inside of ‘Settings,’ I want to go to ‘Securitty.’ And I’m looking for the ‘Screen lock’ option.
Go ahead and tap that. The first two options here are not secure at all. If I set this to no lock screen at all with this ‘None’ option, then as soon as I hit the power button on my device, it wakes up immediately. What I currently have set is the swipe, and that’s what we saw a moment ago where I just turn on the device, I swipe up with my finger, and the phone is ready to go. Now the other three options are much more secure. Let’s start with the pin code, which is what I think most people generally have on their devices.
So I’m gonna choose ‘PIN.’ Now this message is something that you’re only gonna see if you have a device that’s running Lollipop, and it relates to encryption, which is something that we’ll talk about later. But for now I do think it’s a good idea to set your pin code as your encryption lock as well. So I’ll leave this set to “Require PIN to start device” and I’ll hit ‘Continue.’ And now I’m gonna have to type in my pin code. Now what you need to do is choose a four digit code that’s gonna be easy for you to remember, but very difficult for anybody else to guess.
So I’m just gonna type in something simple, course usually you’d want to choose something more complex, but I just want to use something here temporarily for the course. So I’ll type that in, I’ll hit ‘Continue,’ and you do have to type in your pin code again to confirm. And I’ll hit ‘OK.’ And now I have a more secure lock screen set. Now this is another screen that you’re only gonna see on devices running Lollipop. It’s asking you what notifications you want visible on the lock screen. Now this is important, because you may receive notifications like text messages, or appointment notifications, or lots of other notifications that you don’t want other people to see.
This option lets you address this question globally. We’ll talk more about notifications later in the movie on controlling what’s accessible on a locked device. But for now you should know that this message will only pop up if you’re using Lollipop or later. So I’m gonna leave this set to “Show all notification content,” and I’ll hit ‘Done.’ And now I have a pin code connected to my device. So I’m just gonna hit home for a moment, and now when I lock my device, and then I hit the button to wake it up, I just swipe up on the screen and now I’ll need to type in that pin code and hit the little check mark in order to unlock the device.
And this is much more secure. If somebody steals my device, they won’t be able to access anything without that pin code. Now let’s take a look at the other types of lock screens. I’m gonna go back to ‘Settings.’ Back to ‘Security,’ and back to ‘Screen lock.’ In order to make any changes to your screen lock, you will have to type in your current passcode. So I’ll go ahead and type that in. I’ll hit ‘Next.’ And let’s take a look at the ‘Pattern’ lock option. Again I’m just gonna hit ‘Continue’ to go past this encryption message, and from here I just have to draw a pattern.
I’m gonna place my finger on one of these dots and then drag to connect several dots to form a pattern. So I’ll start up here in the top left, and I’ll just drag a very simple pattern here as an example. I’ll hit ‘Continue,’ I’ll confirm that by drawing it again, and ‘Confirm.’ I’ll hit ‘Done’ on this notification question, and now I have a pattern lock. So if I put my phone to sleep, wake it up, swipe up on the screen; now I’ll have to draw that pattern in order to unlock my phone.
This is a lot like the pin code. I’m the only person who knows that pattern, so I should be the only person who can access the device. Let’s go and look at the last setting back in ‘Settings > Security > Screen lock.’ Again, I’ll have to put in my pattern lock to make any changes. Let’s take a look at password. I’ll hit ‘Continue’ to go past this encryption question. This will allow you to set a very long, very complex password with letters and numbers and symbols in any combination that you want.
The idea is that a four digit code might be fairly easy for somebody to guess. Or somebody could look over your shoulder when you type in your passcode, or draw the pattern lock. A longer more complex password is more secure, but it’ll be a little more tedious every time you have to type it in. So for now I’m just gonna cancel this. I don’t want to do a full length password. But I do want to go ahead and switch this back to a pin lock, which is what we’ll use for the rest of this course. I’ll have to type in that twice to ‘Confirm’ and ‘OK.’ Hit ‘Done’ here, and now my device is all set up with the pin code.
Before we move on, let’s look at a few settings that go along with the secured lock screen. There’s an option here to decide if the lock screen should lock immediately when you hit the power button. Now I usually like my lock screen to take effect immediately, but if you’re gonna be checking your phone a lot with just a minute or two in between each time you check it, you might not want the lock to be in effect every time. We should also think about what happens when your device goes to sleep. If you don’t touch your device, eventually the screen will turn itself off.
When this happens do you want the lock to take effect immediately, or do you want some sort of delay? So I’m gonna tap on this option for ‘Automatic lock.’ This phone is currently set to lock the device five seconds after the device goes to sleep. And this is nice, so that if the phone while you’re holding it, you can wake it back up immediately without needing to type in the passcode. Any longer than that and it will be locked. But with that in mind, my last question is: How long does it take for my phone to go to sleep by itself? I’m gonna take a step back here.
I’ll take another step back to go to my main list of settings, and I want to go into the ‘Display’ setting. I’m looking for this option for ‘Sleep.’ I’ll go ahead and tap that. So I’ve got my device set to automatically go to sleep after two minutes, and you can change this time to whatever you want: from ’15 seconds’ to ’30 minutes.’ So go ahead and choose what you want accordingly. I’ll go ahead and cancel that. The options that you saw in this movie were shown on a Nexus device running the stock version of Lollipop.
The menus and options work the same in the stock version of KitKat. However, these menus may be different on devices from other manufacturers. For example, on a Samsung device I’ll go into the app chooser, into ‘Settings,’ and from here to set up a lock screen, I’m looking for the option in ‘Settings’ that’s just called ‘Lock screen.’ It’s here under ‘Quick settings,’ but there’s also a button here under ‘Sound and Display.’ If I go into here and I choose the ‘Screen lock’ option, I have all of the same options that I have on any other Android device.
This device happens to have a ‘Fingerprint’ scanner option, which we’ll talk about later in the course. Now I’m just gonna go ahead and quickly set a pin code for this. Because I want to look at a few other settings that you should be aware of on a Samsung device. Down at the bottom of the lock screen options there is this ‘Secure lock time’ option. By default this is set to ’10 minutes’. That means my lock screen will not take effect unless the device has been asleep for 10 minutes or more.
I usually like to change this to ‘Instantly.’ I want my lock screen to be in effect immediately when my device goes to sleep. In this movie we also talked about the sleep timer option, which is a little bit different on a Samsung device. I’ll take a step back to my ‘Settings,’ and I’m looking for the ‘Display’ settings. This is where I’ll find an option called ‘Screen timeout.’ This is the same as the sleep option that we saw on the other device. So if I choose this, I can choose how long it will take for the device to automatically go to sleep.
I’m gonna change this to ‘3 minutes.’ Most Motorola devices should work the same as stock Android. On any other device, you may have to hunt around a bit in your settings, but you should be looking for options similar to ‘Lock screen,’ or ‘Display,’ or both. To have any real security on your device, you really need to have some sort of secure screen lock. It does take a little more effort to enter the passcode or security pattern every time you use your device, but you will get used to it, and it’s a small price to pay for the security.
At this point, consider how secure you need your device to be, and how convenient you want it to be to unlock your device. Then I suggest you configure your lock screen accordingly.
- Protecting passwords
- Working with a Google account
- Keeping software up to date
- Enabling screen lock and Smart Lock
- Locating and disabling a lost device
- Adjusting app privacy permissions
- Installing malware-free apps