Android 13's upcoming Enhanced Pin Privacy feature explained
The next version of Google's Android operating system will include a feature that Google calls Enhanced Pin Privacy. It is designed to improve protection against over-the-shoulder attacks when entering the Pin on Android devices.
Android device owners have several options to protect their devices. Setting up a Pin is a very common option, but others, such as using biometrics, have risen in popularity in recent years.
Android users who do protect their devices with a Pin may soon improve the security of the process. Entering a Pin currently requires users tapping on the digits of the Pin in correct order. Each time a digit is selected, it is confirming the selection with a short animation.
It helps the user, but it may also give bystanders information about the Pin. To better protect against these over-the-shoulder attacks, Android users may soon enable the Enhanced Pin Privacy feature on Android 13 devices.
The feature disables the animation, so that no visual cue is provided anymore when the Pin is entered. While it is still possible for bystanders to find out about the Pin, it is now required that they watch the user's activity on the keypad directly.
The feature is not turned on by default, but Android 13 users may enable it under Settings > Security and privacy, and a click on the cogwheel icon there. Android 13 is available for Google Pixel devices as a development release currently. It is possible that the feature may be configured at a different location or not be available at all for devices from other manufacturers.
Most mobile phone users may want to avoid unlocking their devices in public places, or be very careful about it. Pins unlock the entire device, and this may give potential attackers access to all kinds of personal and private data.
The new Enhanced Pin Privacy feature disables the animation when entering the Pin on the device. It is not preventing others from watching the device's screen when entering the Pin.
Android 13 will be released later this year.
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