The Potential Pain of Pathetic PINs & Passcodes

A 2011 study by Apple iOS developer Daniel Amitay showed that 15% of all passcodes used to access iPhones are one of the following:

1234 0000 2580 1111 5555 5683 0852 2222 1212 1998

This is increasingly concerning as a more recent study by cryptographers at Cambridge University show that this is a similar case with people’s bank PINs.

The study suggests one in 20 people use a simple numeric pattern such as 4545 whilst one in 10 use a pattern on the entry keypad. “Unfortunately 23% percent of users chose a PIN representing a date, and nearly a third of these used their own birthday.”

99% of customers report that their birth date is listed somewhere in their wallet so if their wallet becomes lost or stolen, the attacker will have around a 9% chance of successfully guessing the users PIN.

The problem is then compounded if you use the same PINs and passcodes across devices and banking cards; losing both your phone and wallet will then potentially mean that not only are your cards compromised but your phone also, together with your contacts, personal notes and logins to all of the online services you access from a smartphone.

Our Advice

Most of the top passcodes follow typical formulas, such as four identical digits, moving in a line up/down the pad, repetition. 5683 is the passcode with the least obvious pattern, but it turns out that it is the number representation of LOVE (5683), once again mimicking a very common internet password: “iloveyou.”

We would recommend choosing a completely random PIN, one that is not a numeric sequence, or a sequence on the keypad. We would strongly advise that the PIN does not relate to your date of birth, or link to any other information held in your wallet. It is also strongly recommended not to use the same PINs and passcodes for different cards and devices.

Stay Safe & Stay Aware

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