We are often entrusted with passwords and pin numbers from our clients and it's surprising how many passwords we're given are relatively simple to guess. We thought we'd seek the advice of a security professional - Matthew Richardson from ESSC Solutions - for a little insight into what makes a great pin number. 
ESSC Top Tips for a Secure PIN Number 
When we install your new intruder alarm it comes with a “default” PIN (personal identification number”) programmed into it. We always advise our customers to change the PIN number and explain to them how to do this. Rather shockingly, we find that when we return service the alarm system the PIN is still set to the default setting. 
How secure is your PIN number? 
The default PIN number is arguably the most insecure of all. Due in no small part to the availability of user manual on the internet, most of which detail the default settings, but they’re also easy to guess. 
The danger of using birth years 
Many people opt to use the year of their birth for the PIN but again this isn’t a great idea because immediately you’ve narrowed the number of numbers a potential intruder must guess to two. Think about it – your PIN if using this method will start with either 19 or 20. Not only that if you’ve been targeted with all the information available on social media etc. these days someone’s birth year is easy to find. Birth years are often shown on social media profiles or even the companies house if you are a company director – so they’re really not hard to guess or find. 
Sequential numbers and repeats are also a bad idea  
Did you know that in the last big survey undertaken the numbers “1234”, “0000” and “1111” formed 19% of all PIN numbers worldwide? A staggering 11% of worldwide PIN numbers are “1234”. A study undertaken in the US found that the top 5 most used PIN numbers worldwide were “1234”, “1111”, “0000” “1212” and “7777”. 
Burglars tend to try patterns when they’ve run out of the obvious numbers so avoid using anything obvious. 
Patterns and how a telephone keypad can help 
Some people base their PIN number by making a number on a pattern on a phone keypad but even that has its hazards if you were to chose obvious numbers such as “2580”. Choosing numbers adjacent to each other such as “4567” should also be avoided. 
One thing that does work however is to spell out a 4-letter name using the letters on the number keys so for example “Mark” would be “6275”, “Andy” would be “2639” whilst “Kate” would be “5283”. 
Beware those prying eyes! 
Some consideration should be given to the position of your keypad. We wouldn’t advise, for instance that it’s just through the door in such a place that as you enter your PIN the door is still open or entering the numbers can be viewed through a window. 
Maintenance of your keypad 
It’s wise to periodically clean your keypad as your fingerprints will over time show as impressions/wear and tear on your keypad as they continually press the same 4 numbers. Then it merely becomes a guessing game for a burglar to select the correct sequence. 
How frequently should you change your PIN number? 
We recommend that you change your PIN number at least twice a year. When you do this, you should switch up the numbers to avoid wear and tear on the buttons so that no buttons are more worn than others. 
If you’ve had a reason to give your alarm code to an “outsider” such as a babysitter, cleaner or tradesman who you are not expecting back any time soon it may also be prudent to change the code. 
We recommend limiting the number of people who have access to your code and if you have children stress to them the importance of not divulging the code to anyone else. 
© Matthew Richardson ESSC-Solutions 2022  
ESSC Solutions are one of the leading companies for security solutions within the Yorkshire area and beyond. They offer intruder alarms, fire alarms, CCTV and other security solutions for homes, offices and larger commercial buildings.  
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