Security Tips from “Agent X” – Pin Number Security

     PIN Numbers and Old Wives Tales: Most people use a four digit pin number for things like debit cards, cell phone passwords, ATMs, and other locations that require a strict numeric requirement like your doctor’s system for pulling your medical records. The four digits size was developed by the industry as they were of the belief that most people could not remember more than four numbers. Go figure most of us know our 10 digit phone number, our street address, our families phone numbers and more. The issues that occur with PIN numbers is we typically use the same number for everything. It is not uncommon to watch people put the number into their phone and use the same number for their alarm system, debit card, and other systems that are numbers only. The truth is you should never ever use the same number for more than one account of activity. Each time you need a number it should be distinct and unique to each activity requiring it. For these numbers never ever us the month and day of birth this is public record and posted everywhere. Never use your last four of your phone number as this is also published everywhere. Never use patterns like the four corners or cross corner. Set a different set of numbers for each of these and as you set one up, start at the opposite end of the number stream than you did for the last one.

     How to Remember Your PIN Numbers: This is easy if you use a password vault or similar tool. Set up your list and store this data in a vault tool or use a tool like GNUPG or PGP to store this data. The two tools referenced are encryption tools- the first is free and the second is for fee. Both do the same thing and if you set a very strong passphrase for entry to this vault you are very well protected and have the ability to look up that PIN number you only use one or two times a year. Remember, never leave the encrypted file open. Use it and then delete the unencrypted value as the encrypted value is left in the encrypted format. This has you remembering one passphrase and the rest of your PINs and passwords are inside this file you can recall at will.

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