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The worst PIN codes of all time: '1234,' '0000,' '6969'

Posting in Finance

The fact that '123456' is one of the most commonly used passwords speaks to how lackadaisical many people are about online security. So it probably shouldn't be very surprising that many are also just as lax when it comes to safeguarding their bank accounts.

How else do you explain that the most common PIN number for ATM cards is actually "1234?" According to a database analysis done by Nick Berry of Datagenetics.com, this easily predictable numerical sequence was chosen by about 11 percent of users, with the second most common PIN code "1111" belonging to 6 percent of users. In fact, a compilation of the top 20 PIN passwords reveals a propensity by many users to employ easily-guessable patterns such as repeating numerical sequences like "0000" and "7777."

Other common methods include using couplets like "4545" and "1313," important dates like birthdays and anniversaries as well as choosing numbers that follow a simple pattern on the keypad. For instance, "2580" was listed as the 22nd most common PIN, primarily due to those numbers appearing sequentially straight down the middle of the pad.

To come up with these findings, Berry drew from 3.4 million PINs made available through "released/exposed/discovered password tables and security breaches."

Considering that four digit PINs comprise of numerical values of 0000 through 9999, there are 10,000 possible combinations, which theoretically should make it pretty difficult for ID thieves. Yet Berry's analysis shows that a list of the top 20 most commonly selected PIN numbers account for over a quarter of what's being used by all bank customers. Basically this means that if a crook had a stolen ATM card in his possession and used the list to access the account, the person would have roughly a one in four chance of success.

So what gives? Are people that nonchalant when it comes to safeguarding their money? Berry certainly thinks so.

"It's amazing how predictable people are," he was quoted as saying in an article published in Yahoo Finance. We don't like hard-to-remember numbers and "no one thinks their wallet will get stolen."

-- via Data Genetics

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— By on September 26, 2012, 9:30 PM PST

Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure