I don't use a debit card very often these days, but when I do I almost always have to spent several moments staring off into space trying to remember my PIN. Unless it's something stupidly easy, numerical passwords slip my mind far more easily than letter-based ones do.
Based on a recent study from the tech consultancy company DataGenetics, I'm not the only one who has trouble with these numeric passcodes. DataGenetics looked at almost 3.4 million four-digit passwords ("condensed from released/exposed/discovered password tables and security breaches") and found that out of the 10,000 possible combinations that the digits 0-9 can be arranged to form a four-digit password, the most common PIN is ...
1234. Yes, really.
If your PIN number is too predictable, it obviously puts you at a target for hackers and thieves -- so you might want to make sure your password isn't anywhere near the top of this list.
Here are the top 20 passwords that account for nearly 27 percent of those 3.4 million PINs studied:
As you can see, the vast majority of people choose numbers that fall into easily-remembered patterns. Why use up valuable brain-space with a random sequence of digits when you can just mash the 2 button a bunch of times, right?
WRONG. If it's that easy for you to remember, it's that easy for a data-or-money-stealing jerkface to figure it out. Mashable recently reported that if a marginally clever thief were to steal enough wallets, he or she would be able to successfully access a bank account with every 10th victim, assuming the cards within came from banks that allow you to choose your own PIN.
So! Long story short: stop using easy numbers for your password. If you're having trouble coming up with a truly random PIN, try one of these ideas:
• Create it from a word. Use the numbers/letters on a phone keypad to come up with a four-letter word you'll remember.
• Base it on a significant date. But not, say, your birth year. Get creative -- maybe your birth month plus your kid's? Your anniversary year plus 8008, because haaa, boob?
• Use a fake cell number. This one's a bit risky considering your phone might be stolen someday, but you could make a fictitious contact with the PIN hidden in the fake number. Just don't name it Passwordia VonRememberMe.
Did you have any idea this many people use such common PINs?
Image via catatronic/Flickr