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New research cautions phone users to re-examine their PIN codes

June 21, 2019 • Mobile and Telecoms, Security, Top Stories

Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO of ESET South Africa

Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO of ESET South Africa

There are many lists online that highlight the most used passwords, but very little attention is drawn to the most used PIN codes. Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO of ESET South Africa, has brought attention to the importance of choosing a unique PIN code to protect our data.

The latest research from the SANS Institute has revealed the top 20 most common mobile phone PIN codes. They are, in no particular order: 0000; 1004; 1010; 1111; 1122; 1212; 1234; 1313; 2000; 2001; 2222; 4444; 3333; 4321; 5555; 6666; 6969; 7777; 8888, and; 9999. The Institute also found that 26% of all phones are cracked using these codes. If a phone is lost or stolen, it can still be accessed with few attempts depending on the PIN code.

Although these PIN codes may seem like a lazy attempt by the user to protect their data, there are reasons why people opt to use them. Most people have kept the same PIN code for years ever since their first smartphone, despite the fact that they may have had multiple smartphones since then. When the concept of the smartphone was first introduced to the public in 2007, fingerprint identification was not a feature. People wanted to get into their phones as quickly as possible, which resulted in them choosing a PIN code that required the least amount of effort to enter.

Despite the fact that safety mechanics like fingerprint identification and facial scanning are now present in smartphones, very few people change their PIN codes. Most people do not even use the PIN code to unlock their phones. People believe that fingerprint identification or facial scanning make their foons hack-proof, but the fact is that your phone still has a PIN code, and if the person trying to access your phone knows the code, the other safety measures become redundant.

Some people use PIN codes that mean something to them, like their birthday for example. This method, however, can prove to be just as dangerous as using a simple PIN code, because if the person who is trying to access your phone knows some basic information about you, your information may not be as safe as you believe.

How to keep your data safe

One method to keep your information safe is to use a long, unique alphanumeric code to lock your phone. Another method, which may seem simple and obvious but is crucial, is to be mindful of your surrounding whenever you insert your code into your phone. Lastly, you should activate the ‘Find My iPhone’ setting on your iPhone device, or the ‘Find My Device’ setting on your Android phone. These setting will make it easier to keep a track of where your phone is at all times.

Edited by Kojo Essah

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