Be Choosy When Choosing A PIN

By Matt AtkinsonMatt Atkinson

Starting Friday, credit card users in Australia will no longer be able to use a signature to verify their transactions. Despite the fact that many may find this change long overdue, it’s still a good step toward improving payment security and goes hand-in-hand with EMV (chip) card technology.

What is slightly troubling, however, is that nearly one million Australians still need to set a PIN in advance of Friday’s deadline. Otherwise, their cards won’t work and they’ll be stuck at the checkout.

So if you’re one of those million, here are some suggestions on how to choose a good PIN number. There’s a bit more to it than you might think.

No dates. They’re simply too easy to know or guess. So avoid your birth date, anniversaries, kids’ birthdays, or even the year you were born.

No repeats. Tapping ‘0’ four times in a row might save you a few milliseconds on each transaction, but it’s terrible security practice. Repeated numbers are too easy to guess or for ‘shoulder surfers’ to observe.

Avoid sequences. The most popular PIN? It’s 1-2-3-4. Combined with 1111 and 0000 (also bad ideas, as above), these three combinations account for close to 20 percent of all four-digit passcodes.

So what’s a good PIN code? According to research by the Data Genetics blog, the least popular four-digit PIN is 8068. But now that it’s public knowledge, maybe it’s not such a good idea anymore. Try to choose a random set of numbers that don’t have a particular relevance to your personal life. And don’t forget to change it a few times per year, in case the worst should happen and your card details wind up as part of a data breach.

Good luck and happy shopping, Australia.

Matt Atkinson is a Business Development Manager for Mako Networks based in Australia.

July 30th 2014 | Blog Posts, News