Passcode

A passcode is a numeric sequence used to authenticate a user on a computer or electronic device. The word "passcode" is sometimes used synonymously with "password," but technically, a passcode only contains numbers.

The security of a numeric passcode is proportional to how many digits it contains. Since there are ten possible values for each digit (0-9), the number of possible codes is equal to ten raised to the number of digits. For example, a four-digit passcode can have 104 or 10,000 different combinations. A six-digit passcode can have 106 or 1,000,000 different combinations.

Passcodes provide quick and easy authentication on devices with a numeric keypad. Smartphones, for instance, allow you to enter a passcode as an alternative to fingerprint or face recognition. Other devices that use passcode authentication include ATMs, electronic safes, and security system control panels. When accessing an ATM, your PIN (personal identification number) may double as your passcode.

Since passcodes only contain integers, they are naturally less secure than passwords or passphrases. Therefore, devices that provide passcode authentication often disallow access after a certain number of failed login attempts. For example, if you passcode-protect your smartphone and enter the wrong passcode multiple times, you may be required to wait several minutes before you can attempt to log in again.

Updated April 22, 2021

Definitions by TechTerms.com

The definition of Passcode on this page is an original TechTerms.com definition. If you would like to reference this page or cite this definition, you can use the green citation links above.

The goal of TechTerms.com is to explain computer terminology in a way that is easy to understand. We strive for simplicity and accuracy with every definition we publish. If you have feedback about the Passcode definition or would like to suggest a new technical term, please contact us.

Want to learn more tech terms? Subscribe to the daily or weekly newsletter and get featured terms and quizzes delivered to your inbox.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe or change your frequency setting at any time using the links available in each email.

Questions? Please contact us.