There are too many forms of verification that exist nowadays. Passwords, PINs, face scans, fingerprint scans, CAPTCHAs, etc. Next, we’ll just have to send it a picture of yourself to Apple every time you want to unlock your phone.
More security is not bad, it can just be a tad overwhelming and confusing. This is why many personal devices even allow you the option to choose what type of verification you’d like to set up. Windows laptops allow face scanning, passwords, PINs, or fingerprint scanners. iPhones allow more of the same, and Android devices even allow methods such as connecting dots in a specific pattern. The choice is all yours!
Though, there are two that are used absolutely everywhere. I’m talking passwords and PINs. Most accounts make you type in some form of password, and credit cards are constantly asking for your PIN when purchasing something. But which one of these are more secure? Surely passwords, considering a 32-digit long password would be harder to crack than a 4-digit PIN. But it’s never that simple when it comes to cybersecurity, and each one has their specific uses.
1. PIN It
Personal Identification Numbers have been around since 1967, when the first ATM was released for public use. Ever since then, the PIN has been the go-to for banks and businesses when it comes to authenticating users.
PINs are commonly used in a four-digit variety, but they can incorporate up to 12 digits, though this is rare and only in certain cases. But even if it’s a 12-digit pin, it can only use numeric values of 0-9. Is there a reason why banks, businesses, and even personal devices use it?
The major reason that cards and devices use a PIN is that a PIN number is tied to that specific item. For example, someone can steal your debit card, but they can’t use it on much unless they know your PIN number. Same with a device like your laptop. They can steal your PIN, but they wouldn’t be able to sign in to anything unless they had the laptop itself.
For devices like a Windows laptop, which uses the same password as your account password, using a PIN is a quick and easy way to protect your account from people who may be snooping for your password over your shoulder.
2. You May or May Not Pass(word)
Even though the pros of a PIN work well for devices and cards, the same can’t be said for accounts. After all, PINs being limited to numeric values makes them easier to brute force or guess, even though it would still take a while. That’s why we have passwords.
Passwords are something I’m sure you’re accustomed to. It’s what you enter when you log into literally any site on the Internet. Your bank, your gaming account, business account, etc. Everything is guarded with a password, and that’s because a password offers a complex guard to an account, versus the simple nature of a PIN.
Passwords can be as complex as the user (or website) prefers. Numbers, letters that can be lowercase or uppercase, special characters, etc. While passwords don’t offer the convenience that a PIN may offer, programs such as password generators and password lockers offer a way to keep your passwords organized.
So, really, both co-exist because they have their own specific purposes. Would I use a 4-digit code to protect my Microsoft account? Of course not, but I would use a PIN to protect my Window laptop.
In the realm of cybersecurity, you can’t blow off one form of security for another. There’s usually a reason that “inferior” security implantation is used over another. PINs may seem inferior, but the system does have its strengths, same going for passwords. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to enter a 12-digit password everytime I want to use my card.