Stop using rotten PIN codes! (and here's how to do it)

A few weeks ago, Tarah Wheeler, of Splunk, shared a list of the most commonly used PIN codes to protect smartphones (and, given the functioning of the human brain, other things like their credit card for example).

Here is the list :

  • 1234
  • 1111
  • 0000
  • 1212
  • 7777
  • 1004
  • 2000
  • 4444
  • 2222
  • 6969
  • 9999
  • 3333
  • 5555
  • 6666
  • 1122
  • 1313
  • 8888
  • 4321
  • 2001
  • 1010

I have done other research and found that the 1234 is by far the most popular, accounting for about 11% of the codes, and 1111, 0000 and 1212 representing about 6%, 2% and 1%, respectively.

I do not believe it. But I saw it with my own eyes. And no, I was not looking over my shoulders in the Apple Store, but I've been exposed to PIN validation attempts for so long that I'm good enough to spot finger movements.

So yes, people's PINs are actually as bad as studies suggest.

And I think it's been made worse by biometrics because people think that the biometric method replaces the PIN and they use it a lot less often now, they do not want to use something too complicated in case where they would forget it.

iOS 9 has also changed things and made PIN codes to 6 digits the default, but it seems like there are still a lot of people still using 4 PIN codes. That said, I'm sure people will also find stupid PINs at 6 digits to use!

It may be time for iOS and Android to force people to use stronger PINs. If you use one of the PIN codes above, change it!

Improve the PIN code of your iOS device:

  • Go to Settings> Face ID & Code / Touch ID & Code (you will need to enter your existing code).
  • Tap Enable PIN or Change PIN.
  • Enter a number at 6 digits.
  • There are other access code options, such as a numeric 4 digit code, a custom numeric code, or a custom alphanumeric code. Do not use the four-digit option!

Improve the PIN code of your Android device:

  • Go to the Settings app and tap Security and Location or Security.
  • If you have already set security, you will need to enter your current PIN, model or password.
  • Tap the screen lock option you want to use and follow the instructions on the screen.
  • Use at least one PIN at 6 digits.

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