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Android 14 will make PIN peeping difficult with this simple change
- Android 13 QPR3 Beta 2 includes a new setting that disables animations on the lockscreen keyguard.
- This makes it difficult for someone to peep at your phone’s PIN or password over your shoulder.
- Phone OEMs will merge this change when they release Android 14 for their devices.
Shoulder surfing attacks are becoming alarmingly common these days. Thieves basically peep over your shoulder to learn your phone’s PIN or password input, and then once they steal your phone, they can actually steal your entire identity. A new change present in Android 13 QPR3 Beta 2 and Android 14 will make shoulder surfing attacks a bit more difficult to orchestrate.
As spotted by XDA, the latest Android 13 QPR3 Beta 2 release contains a new setting that disables animations when you are entering your PIN. This new setting is located at Settings > Security & privacy > Device lock > Enhanced PIN privacy.
When enabled, you will not get the button press animation that usually plays out when you click on a number on the keyguard on your lockscreen. This simple change makes it a bit more difficult for a casual observer to figure out which key you have pressed, while you will stay unaffected as your muscle memory will guide you forward.
Why is this a big deal? A recent Wall Street Journal report highlighted how shoulder surfing attacks were becoming more common by the day. By simply observing a person’s phone unlock code and then gaining access to their device through theft, thieves can completely take over the person’s Apple or Google account, along with any payment data stored within them.
The report mentions iPhone users as the prime victims of these attacks, but all Android phones are equally affected. This new change in Android 13 QPR3 Beta 2 makes such attacks harder to orchestrate.
However, phone OEMs usually do not incorporate the changes in QPR releases. So if you’re looking forward to seeing this setting on your phone, you will have to wait for your OEM to merge Android 14 changes into its OS. Android 14 will release sometime in August 2023, and your phone OEM will take a few more months to roll out the update to you.
Google Pixel users can install the latest Android 13 QPR3 Beta 2 right now, or wait for the stable rollout of the QPR3 build in June.