Your PIN and password, are they easily guessed?

With news of yet another cyber attack on a large company, is it time to review your security measures? Are your PIN and password just a little bit too easy to work out? On Friday it was Ticketek Australia’s turn to reveal that some of its customer data had been compromised.

While Ticketek said no passwords or payments had been accessed, customer names, their dates of birth and email addresses may have been. 

The news was followed by a statement from Ticketek, offering assurance of the type with which many are now familiar. “We have worked diligently to put every resource into completing an investigation,” it said in the statement. This would allow it to “communicate with customers who may have been impacted, and other stakeholders, as quickly as possible”.

Ticketek’s statement continued: “We have already commenced notifying those customers who may have been impacted. We apologise for any concern that this news may cause – we will provide further updates as more information becomes available.”

Apologies are all well and good, and large companies are undoubtedly facing security challenges as never before. Even so, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to ask if these big corporations are doing enough to protect our personal details.

But while we’re waiting for that question to be asked and answered, there are at least some measures we can take ourselves. And reviewing your PIN and password is a good place to start.

Is your PIN on this list?

The problem with a PIN – and a password – is remembering them. Banks are always telling us – for good reason – not to store our PIN with our credit or debit card. The solution? Store it in your head. It’s a great idea in theory, but remembering a random four digit number is easier said than done for many.

Solving that next little problem is often done by creating an easy to remember PIN. But in doing so, many people follow the same path in selecting a simple PIN. The result is the list below. Here are the 10 most commonly used four-digit PINs:

  • 1234
  • 1111
  • 0000
  • 1212
  • 7777
  • 1004
  • 2000
  • 4444
  • 2222
  • 6969

Now you have to admit, it would require a fair bit of effort to forget any of these, they’re so simple. That’s great for you when you head to an ATM or pay for a purchase. But it’s also great for anyone who might want to use your card should it be lost or stolen.

The good news and the bad news

The numbers above come from research published by infographic site Information Is Beautiful. That same research has also identified the least commonly used PIN sequences. They are:

  • 8557
  • 8438
  • 9539
  • 7063
  • 6827
  • 0859
  • 6793
  • 0738
  • 6835
  • 8093

Now you might be thinking, “That’s good news. I’ll use one of these rare PIN codes.” The downside to that is you may end up with your original problem – not being able to remember the PIN. Not only that, now that the least common PINs have been published, scammers might start trying them too!

So what is the PIN and password solution?

Many customers go for birthdates or birth years as a good compromise. That’s a good idea in theory, as most of us don’t easily forget that date. On the other hand, that information is often found on ID cards such as a driver’s licence. If you lose your wallet and it contains your bank cards and your licence, there goes that secret.

According to Global cybersecurity adviser Jake Moore, a password manager is one of your best defences. “Password managers offer all the security for when such information cannot always be remembered,” Mr Moore said. “Plus, they can help generate completely random codes, so you don’t rely on your birthday or anniversary.”

There are a number of sites that can provide you with further information about password managers. This Australian government advice page is a good starting point. In the meantime, try to avoid the really simple and common PIN codes such as 1234 or 6969. That way you’ll give yourself a better chance of having a nice day.

Do you use complex PIN sequences and passwords? Or does it all seem a bit too hard? Do you worry about being hacked? Let us know via the comments section below.

Also read: How to breeze through check-in and security

Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for the ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigaczhttps://www.patreon.com/AndrewGigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I think 4 numbers are 2 too few. a 6 number pin wou;ld be moe difficult to hack, and you can remeber it.! Just think, some sites ask you for a p/w of 8 characters including upper case and numbers. If you can rememebr those, you can rmemebr 6 digits.

  2. Sadly, 6 digits would encourage a lot of people to use your DOB: ddmmyy as their PIN

    As keypads are mostly the same (I think some countries might have a different layout) but they usually have letters linked to numbers – therefore I think of a unique four letter word and use the number(s) that are linked to that number 🤞🏻

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