personal identification number
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- A personal identification number (PIN) is a secret password, which a person uses to access a given system. This password is used to verify the userís identity to the system. The user is usually required to provide an ID, which is public, and a PIN, which is private. The system compares the PIN and the user ID before access is granted. Access is granted only when there is a match between the numbers entered in the system and those stored there. PIN numbers are used for automated teller machines, credit cards, debit cards, and points of sale. The last term indicates any location where a transaction occurs, like a checkout counter, a POS terminal, and more. Mobile phones also take PIN numbers, which are recorded in SIM cards. The PIN was invented by James Goodfellow who patented the PIN technology.
The most common use of a PIN is as a code for accessing oneís bank account at an ATM. Personal identification numbers were first used for automated teller machines in the late 60s. Since then, they have been applied to various technological inventions and developments, helping to keep sensitive information as secure as possible. PINs should not be disclosed to other persons and be known only to their users. This helps reduce the risk of fraud and identity theft.
With regard to safety, there are software applications (e.g. ATM SafetyPIN software), allowing ATM users to alert the police in case of forced withdrawals. To do that, they can enter their PIN in a reversed order. For example, if your personal identification number is 2572, you should enter 2752. The automated teller machine will recognize the PIN, although it is entered backwards. You will be given the amount of money requested and at the same time, the police will be dispatched to the ATMís location to help you. This will be unknown to the robber. Unfortunately, many people are not aware that this option exists.
The personal identification number is validated by means of hardware security modules. These include a number of different methods, among which the IBM method and the Visa method. The IBM method is utilized to generate a natural PIN by means of encrypting the PAN (primary account number). This is done by using a special key, often called the PIN generation key. You cannot select a natural PIN as a user, because they are based on the PAN.
The Visa method is used to generate an authentication value of the PIN. This can be stored on the card or in a database and is known as a reference authentication value. This method works in the following way. It is again based on the PAN and takes the 11 digits of this number located to the right. These include all digits but the validation key index, the sum value, and the PIN value. The authentication value is derived from this value. The difference between the Visa method and the IBM method is that with the former, a PIN is not derived. The authentication value of the PIN is taken to confirm the PIN that is entered into any given system and to generate the reference value. This PIN can be selected by the user or generated randomly by means of the IBM method.
There are many issues concerning security of personal identification numbers. All PINs entered into financial and banking systems are 4-digit numbers between 0000 and 9999, which comes to over 10,000 variants. Even that did not seem safe enough to the bank state of Switzerland, where six-digit pins are given.