Your home or business burglar alarm system increases the safety of everyone and everything within. It’s always comforting to know that you have a system in place to alert you when there is an intrusion, so that you can take precautions to secure yourself and all the people and things you love most.
While a professionally installed burglar alarm system will reliably alert you and alarm monitoring staff of an intrusion, consider the outcome of an attempted crime if the burglar correctly guesses your alarm’s PIN code and disables your alarm system.
Can a random burglar actually guess your PIN code? What can be done to stop this from happening?
There are 10,000 four-digit PIN code combination possibilities from 0000-9999. The most common four-digit PIN? 1234.
A recent study of 3.4 million PIN codes found that 1234 is the most common PIN, occurring roughly 11% of the time. Put another way, 374,000 out of the 3.4 million alarm systems used by homeowners and business owners use the code 1234.
We can assume that 1234 is chosen most often because it’s easy to remember. Let’s take a look at the top five most common PIN codes to see if code simplicity is a top priority for most people.
Each of the top five most used PINs are composed of sequential or repeating digits. These codes are all easy to remember.
But the trend doesn’t stop there. All 19xx PIN code combinations pop up in the top-fifth of the data. Think about it: 1972, 1985, 1998… what do all 19xx PINs have in common? They correspond to years. This suggests that important dates, such as birth years, are popular four-digits PIN codes. PINs that are coded as month/day, like 0417, 0921, 1124, etc., are also extremely common—but far more difficult to guess.
By identifying the most common PIN codes and performing a brute force attack, an intruder may successfully gain access into a home or business in a much shorter time than trying every PIN combination in sequential order. In other words, someone without knowledge of a PIN code is more likely to guess the code correctly by trying 1234, a repeating code like 1111, or by trying a known birth year or birth date. It would be impossible for a person to guess a PIN code in a reasonable amount of time if they had to try all 10,000 combinations.
Sequential digits, repeating numbers, and the 19xx PIN code sequences are much easier to guess than a truly random four-digit number.
The least common PIN codes don’t follow a pattern.
Unlike the most commonly used PINs, which are both easy to remember and follow a specific pattern, the five least common PIN codes are much more random.
Just 25 of the 3.4 million codes were 8068, which makes it the least common four-digit code. Statistically, it would be near impossible for someone to guess any of these uncommon codes. Note that the least commonly used PIN codes start with 6, 7, 8, or 9, suggesting that alarm users are biased towards sequences starting with 1 through 5.
This doesn’t mean you should rush to change your PIN to 8068. But what you should do is avoid easily guessed PINs, such as repeating digits or the birth year of a son or daughter.
How can you increase the strength of your PIN?
You don’t want anyone to guess your burglar alarm PIN code. Here are some ways to ensure your home or business remains secure.
Never use default PINs. Most security systems come with a default system code, such as 0000, that is meant to be changed once installed. It’s important to change this code, as the default PIN is often the same for every device made by the manufacturer. Changing the default code is critical to ensuring your home is protected.
Avoid using patterns and sequential numbers. Don’t use codes like 1234 or 1111. Any variation of repeating numbers is predictable and not as secure as non-repeating numbers. Even though they are easy to remember, they can compromise your home or business security. If you think that you’ll forget the code, be sure to jot it down in the Notes app on your phone, in a password-protected computer, or on a piece of paper that you store in a safe place.
Don’t use birth years. If a criminal guesses that your PIN code is a year, and glances at the photos you have on the mantle and suspects that it’s the birth year of one of your children and they’re right, then you have effectively given them a three-digit head start.
Install the burglar alarm panel out of sight. Your burglar alarm provider should help you determine where best to install the burglar alarm panel, so this might not be a problem for you. But it’s worth noting—you want to be sure that nobody can see you type in the code. As long as the panel is not in clear view of a window, or in a public space like the lobby of your business, then you’re good to go.
Periodically change your PIN. At some point in time, you’ve probably given your PIN code to babysitters, family members, house watchers, friends, neighbors, and others, just so they don’t accidentally set off the alarm. But since so many people know, it’s worth changing the PIN code once every year or so.
It’s also smart to change the PIN code to keep the keypad in good condition. Over time, typing in your code can wear out the buttons, which can make it much easier for someone to guess your code. Again, you can avoid this by changing up your PIN once a year.
Your burglar alarm system is an integral part of your home or business security. But it’s not nearly as effective if you set an obvious, easy-to-guess PIN code. You can set the most secure code if you avoid sequential numbers, years and dates, and change your PIN every year.
Bay Alarm is a leading provider of residential and commercial burglar alarm systems. Our expert technicians can get you comprehensive security with the best technical support in the alarm industry. Contact us today for a quote!