Fingerprint Sensors Dramatically Improves Android Device Security

During Google I/O last week, Googler Stephan Somogyi presented the 3rd Annual Google Security Update.  The update covered a lot of ground for a 37 minute presentation but one of the key messages around Android was how device fingerprint scanners have dramatically improved device security.  How?  Simply by having people setup the lock screen and use their fingerprint as the key to getting into their device.  With the introduction of these scanners on the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X, Stephan reported that now 90% of Nexus owners have enabled the lock screen.  That is up from just 50% the previous year.

The news of this adoption means that more and more users of Nexus devices are more secure than ever and I suspect that other manufactures are seeing similar adoption numbers on their

Nexus 6P in Matte-Gold
Nexus 6P in Matte-Gold

flagships with fingerprint scanners.  These scanners make security easy and that will always be a challenge to get people to adopt security measures.  If it is difficult, human nature is that it just won’t get done.

I can’t encourage readers enough to make sure you have a PIN or password setup on your lock screen of your phone and tablet.  Even if you don’t have a device with a fingerprint scanner, setting up a PIN is simple and it provides a simple but often effective layer of security on your device.  Remember that the trick when you get your phone stolen or it is lost, is that the bad guys can get to the data on your phone.  A PIN or password (and obviously the fingerprint scanner is the best) prevents that data from being accessed.  Sure if someone really wants to get to the data on your phone they can brute force it.  However, since most of us are not celebrities, the bad guys just want your phone.  Set up a PIN or password, or if your phone has the fingerprint scanner, so you have a deterrent for trying to get your data.

You can watch the full 3rd Annual Google Security update below.  It’s 37 minutes long but super informative, even if you aren’t a developer.