Most Credit Card PINs Are Easy to Crack—Here's How to Strengthen Yours
You've probably noticed how we like to stress the importance of a strong password. After all, there are still people out there who continue to use passwords like 123456 and even just "password". But passwords aren't the only barriers that protect your information.
According to a blog post by Nick Berry, a former rocket scientist and current president of Data Genetics, there are 10,000 possible combinations for a 4-digit PIN using the numbers 0-9. And out of that myriad of possibilities, nearly 11% of all PINs being used are "1234". Surprised? No? I'm not surprised.
What's next in the list of common PIN codes? Pigeons. Which translates to "1111", of which over 6% use out of the 3.4 million PINs that Berry examined. Here are the other 20 most common PINs used:
Out of the over 3 million PINs examined, nearly 27% of all them were one of the 20 above. Why these numbers? Well, "1234" and "0000" shouldn't be hard to figure out, but the code "1004" is actually one popular with Koreans, because the number sounds like the word for "angel", and the 22nd most popular (obviously not in the above chart) is "2580", which is a straight line down the middle of a telephone keypad.
Berry also pointed out that 50% use one of the top 426 codes, and that the most uncommon PIN is "8068".
So, what does this teach us? Use better PINs, because it's not only important for keeping thieves from stealing your dough from ATMs, but it's also very important for keeping law enforcement out of your smartphone. How many of you actually use "2580" as your iPhone's passcode? Really? How about your voicemail PIN code? Yeah.
- Don't use any patterns.
- Don't use any birth dates.
- Don't use any repeating digits.
- Don't use any years.
- Don't use the same PIN for your smartphone as your debit card.
- Don't use the most commonly unused PIN, "8068", because now everybody knows it.
- Don't use the last 4 digits of your social security number.
- Don't use the last 4 digits of your phone number.
- Don't use your address number.
- Don't use the PIN that came with your credit or debit card.
- Don't use the last four digits of you credit or debit card number.
- Do use four different digits that don't apply to any of the above.
- Do change your PIN every month to keep hackers on their toes.
If you want to see more details on Berry's analysis, check out his blog.