Passwords and PIN Codes – a Timely Reminder

Passwords and PIN Codes – a Timely Reminder

The unsavoury business of the News Of The World telephone hacking scandal has highlighted the potential threats that exist to our privacy and personal data. While it’s unlikely that most of us will ever be targeted by a tabloid newspaper, it’s worth examining how the alleged hacking was carried out:

Mobile phones used to be sold with a default four-digit PIN code such as 0000 or 1234. Customers were encouraged to change their PIN code, but many did not. The likes of tabloid journalists or private investigators could simply call the number and, when the caller didn’t answer, enter the default PIN code and listen to the person’s messages.

Your online activities no doubt include many instances of passwords, PIN codes and similar. To make it harder for those who would do you harm, follow some simple rules:

  • Change your passwords regularly.
  • Don’t use the same password for accessing various resources; preferably use different ones, but at the very least use variants.
  • Don’t use cliches such as dates of birth, names of children or pets etc.
  • Include both letters and numbers, preferably in a pseudo-random order.
  • If you must write down passwords, do so in a non-obvious place and in such a way that it is impossible for the finder to guess the resource to which it applies.

If you have any doubts or queries about online security, contact us for advice.