This cyber security month we’re taking a glimpse at how not to choose a password, courtesy of examples straight from Hollywood and the small screen. Prepare for many a fictional mishap!
A big part of maintaining cyber security within your organisation is passwords. Because of awareness spread during cyber security month, we all know the importance of a high-strength password, with numbers, characters, and a length of over 8 characters. Despite this, the most common password remains 123456, closely followed by… you guessed it: password.
If you’re guilty of this, you can count yourself in great company, from TV show geniuses to super spies and superheroes – there are many characters from the screen who have neglected good password security.
To highlight this, we’ve put together a list of terrible passwords over the years on the silver and small screen.
During one episode of the popular BBC series, our favourite Baker Street detective finds himself attempting to access vital information locked away on Irene Adler’s phone. Months of trying to crack the code show that Sherlock really over-thought his guesses, as it’s revealed that ‘SHER’-LOCKED is the password. How romantic.
Another character who let their heart take priority over their cyber security is James Bond, who uses the name of his love interest – Vesper – as his password. Thankfully, 007 used the numbers corresponding to her name, rather than the letters, and the bad guys were unable to guess it. Although this isn’t the most technical encryption out there, it’s better than nothing.
Spiderman: Far From Home
To say that Happy Hogan is the head of security for Stark Industries – an organisation led by a tech genius – you’d think he’d be clued-up about mobile security. However, during this film he reveals that his phone password is set to… you guessed it: “password.” Even Peter Parker comments on what a terrible password that is, and we’re inclined to agree.
George, one of the show’s main characters, is a genius with an IQ in the 150’s, yet he also admits that “password1” is his password of choice… for every single internet login. He does turn into a werewolf when the moon is full though, so hopefully that will help scare off cyber criminals.
In possibly the worst cinematic example of password security, Leslie Nielsen opens up a computer system that prompts him for the user and the password. For the user, he enters “user” and for the password, he enters “password” and this actually works. Good guesswork? We don’t think so.
What’s worse than using 1234 as a password? Try keeping that password written on a post-it note right above the keypad lock. This takes place during an episode of Maniac, where the characters are locked in a medical testing facility for examination. I’m sure they all felt much more secure when the password was later changed to 5678.
Police Academy IV
In Police Academy IV, the villain uses the word “GREED” as his password. At first glance, this might be quite hard to guess, but considering he has the same word on the bracelet that he always wears, it’s pretty much a more upscale version of a post-it note by your computer, except it’s engraved in solid silver.
In Superman Returns, Lois Lane’s computer password is “Superman.” In Lois and Clark, the same character – this time played by Teri Hatcher instead of Kate Bosworth – makes the exact same error. These two characters are not alone however, as “Superman” is one of the world’s most common passwords to this day, so it looks like the Man of Steel has made quite an impact on us all.
Bad cyber security seems to be a common thread in the superhero genre, as a similar password faux pas also popped up in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. Not to worry, the Caped Crusader would never make such an error – instead it’s ancillary bad guy, Max Shreck – an ally of The Penguin – who is foolish enough to use his beloved dog’s name as his password, a move that led to his undoing.
Using your name as a password is usually a pretty bad move, but when your full name is six words long, like Carmen Elizabeth Juanita Costa-Brava Cortez, it probably has more than enough characters to throw a hacker off, although adding a few numbers and special characters into the mix can’t hurt.
He’s a genius time agent from the future, but the password security of the 51st century must be pretty bad, as in an episode of Torchwood, it’s revealed that Captain Jack Harkness keeps all of his important passwords written down in a notebook. The Captain can be quite old fashioned!
What’s worse than writing your password down? Saying it out loud! This happens in an episode of Scrubs where Ted has the sense to ask JD not to watch him type his password in, then says every letter aloud as he’s typing it. This gives any eavesdroppers the opportunity to log into his account, which is bad enough in a hospital office, but could be much worse in a co-working space, or public place – locations that so many employees work from currently.
Most of these instances show characters leaving their accounts vulnerable to infiltration by using passwords that are no match for their friends, family, or archnemeses – never mind a sophisticated hacker. This cyber security month, we wanted to draw attention to the importance of strong password management. Of course, these examples are shared in jest, but a lot of these bad password habits do make an appearance in reality.
If you’re struggling to manage passwords, Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) and/or Single Sign On (SSO) could be the solutions that you’re looking for.
We work with our partners such as Microsoft and OneLogin to facilitate MFA and SSO solutions for companies that are facing cyber security threats in the real world. To find out more, just get in touch with a member of our dedicated team.
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