Android security optionsFew things are more important these days than security. If your phone is lost or stolen, you want to keep your information out of someone else's hands. And one of the easiest ways to do that is with basic password protection on your phone.

With Android 2.2, you have new options for locking your phone. There's the tried and true pattern unlock (which remains in use on pre-Froyo phones). And now we also have the ability to lock via a personal identification number (PIN), or by alpha-numeric password.

To get to the security options, tap the menu button from the home screen, then choose Settings>Security>Screen lock. (The exact words may vary slightly from phone to phone.)

Once you set your security option, you can set how quickly you want the phone to lock itself. Could be immediately, could be after five or 10 minutes.

If your phone is hooked into a corporate Exchange system, however, you might be subject to its security policies, so some of these options my be mandatory, or you might not be able to set the lock time, so check with your IT department.

But for everyone else, there's no excuse to not protect your privacy with this one.

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Reader comments

Password protect your phone

27 Comments

I like the patten lock, because it is very simple. Once your phone wakes up, you swipe your patten and the phone unlocks. That is a two step process. The new PIN lock requires too many steps to unlock the phone (on my Verizon Droid). You first need to swipe the unlock button, then enter your PIN and press ok. It would be better if the PIN unlock worked the same at the patten unlock, when the phone wakes up, it should prompt for the PIN and then unlock without needing to press OK.

just my thoughts on this.

I have the PIN lock as well. You can do this. I just set the PIN lock, set the timeout to when the display is off, and then on the page before that set the screen lock to unchecked. Now when I turn off the phone and back on I only get the PIN unlock.

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How do these work with the custom UI that some phones have (Sense, Motoblur, TouchWiz, etc)? I'd read that these don't work with the leaked Froyo with Sense, but haven't rooted so I can't verify.

What if you fail to enter the correct password? How many failures before it wipes the device, if at all?

I don't know for the PIN lock, but I'm guessing it's similar to the pattern lock. If you do it wrong 5 times in a row, it puts you in a 30 second timer where you can't unlock it. Then another 5 times and it pauses for another 30 seconds. Repeat up to 20 attempts, when it forces you to use your Google sign in to unlock the phone. I don't think it ever forces you to wipe like the Blackberry.

Is there a way to still get my screen to time out after a minute but not have the password kick in until 5 or 10 minutes? Using a dinc with 2.1

"you can set how quickly you want the phone to lock itself. Could be immediately, could be after five or 10 minutes."

can you tell me how I can do this? byeee

just a tip for folks -- if using the pattern lock, it can be really easy to figure out someone's lock based on the smudges you make every time you unlock it. I always recommend folks make part of their pattern overlap so it's more difficult to recreate just from looking at the finger smudges.

probably sounds crazy -- but several of my friends noticed and did the same thing.

thomascj, good point, I just changed mine. Also, hoe do you disable that screen lock you have to drag down. Can't I use just the pattern lock?

not sure what phone you're using -- on my droid i just turn on the screen and am presented with the pattern lock.

I did this for a while and then realized what a Hassel it was.

I'm betting most people don't bother with am any locks.

Unfortunately, if you are using Sense (HTC), you still have to wake the phone up with the button, then swipe the screen lock, THEN you can enter your pattern or PIN.

That is at least one step too many- there is no need for the swipe thing if you are using a pattern or PIN. I don't understand why the need for both.

This doesn't stop someone from copying all your all stuff off the SD card when they hook it up to a PC.

Well, if they physically remove the card, true. But they're not mounting your phone as a drive as long as its locked.

That's strange, when I connect it to any PC, it auto-mounts as removable drive and I can access it without unlocking the phone. How do you turn auto-mount off? I'm running 2.2 on a N1.

That's not normal 2.2 behavior for the N1. You sure this is stock?

You might hear your computer make noises or pop up something, but that does not mean you can read the phone as a drive. Tether maybe, but no data card access.

Anyone using an app or know of a "hack" for bypassing exchange activeSync policy? My current policy is really annoying where it requires me input a cryptic password just so I can unlock my phone.

I've used lockPicker for my EVO on 2.1, where instead of using the cryptic password, I would be able to use the simple lock pattern to unlock my phone, but after updating to 2.2, lockPicker is now broken and I am force to use the annoying cryptic password.

Any input is appreciated.

Be careful with this - if you enter the details incorrectly too many times - and for me that was the pattern lock when the phone was in my pocket - you could be completely locked out and face a hard-reset and return to default/factory settings (meaning you'll lose everything that isn't on your SD card).

For more info and to see the horror stories of the people who've been caught out by this ridiculous bug (including yours truly), check out Android Bug #4781 and Android Bug #3006.

Can you setup the security settings so that the password.is only asked for every let's say 5 mins.from the last time it was entered?

I know it has been several months ago that this discussion ensued, but I am searching for an answer to my problem with my LG Optimus.

I set it to require the pattern password when it wakes up, but for the life of me I cannot find how to disable it. Under "Location & Security," I can change the pattern or change to a PIN, but not disable it. I have even looked in all the other categories in "Settings, to no avail. This is not that bad of a problem, it's just unnecessary for me to have to unlock my phone all the time on nights/weekends when there isn't anyone else around to protect it from. Thanks!

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