When cell phones were first released a few decades ago, they were enormous, heavy and lacking in any real security features. After all, people used them to — gasp — make calls, so there wasn’t really much of a need for added passwords or other features.


Fast forward to today, and it may seem like most of us use our cell phones for anything but making calls. We pay our bills from our bank app, we check the value of our stock portfolio online and we do a variety of other tasks that we don’t want some crook who steals our phone to access. As a result, cell phones now come with some pretty nifty security features, which have definitely improved and evolved over the years. Check out the following examples:

PIN Numbers for Voicemail Access

Voicemail came around in the 1980s. To hear their messages, cell phone owners would have to call an access number and then enter a PIN. The phone usually came with a default PIN like 3333 that people were advised to change. Of course, few cell phone owners actually did this, so hackers could easily call the number of their intended victim, enter the generic PIN and probably hear the person’s personal messages.



Unlocking Feature

Lock screens were introduced with the iOS 5 and Android 2.0 smartphones. This included an unlock mechanism, which meant users had to “slide” the phone open to access its data. While this was an improvement over a phone with everything immediately exposed, it also meant anyone with a working finger could unlock the phone. To help make the phones even more secure, a password was then added to phones; people had to enter a unique passcode in order to get their phones to do anything. Pattern locks were the next step in cell phone security; they were harder for hackers to figure out than numbers. This feature is still in use in many iOS and Android phones.


Fingerprint Scanning

In 2015, smartphone companies decided to get into hardware-based security enhancements. The first example of this technology was in the form of a fingerprint scanner. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 5S came with built-in technology that let users unlock their phones by holding their finger over a scanner located on the home button or the camera. If your fingerprint matched the one you saved on the phone, the smartphone would unlock.

This form of technology, called biometrics, essentially relies on a highly unique part of your body to gain access to the phone. A phone that still uses this advanced technology is the LG G6; the phone, which features an Android Nougat 7.0 operating system, features a fingerprint scanner that is easy to enable — simply open up the Settings tab and tap on General Tab and then Fingerprints and Security and then Fingerprints. Enter the lock screen protection to register your fingerprint, touch the power button a few times to register your fingerprint and then tap OK. In case you were wondering how the fingerprint scanner “knows” it is you, Android Authority explains that most smartphones like the LG G6 feature a “capacitive scanner,” which uses a bunch of ultra small capacitor circuits to gather data about your print.


Iris and Facial Recognition

The next step in smartphone security evolution seems to involve your eyes and your face. The iris scanner and facial recognition features rely on the same notion that these parts of your body are as unique as your fingerprints; the iris scanner adds an extra layer of biometric security.

While it is technically possible to use a “lifted” fingerprint to access a phone, it is impossible to do this with an eye. The facial scanner relies on the size and shape of your face and its many unique features to unlock your smartphone.

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