Is the most dreaded popup on your screen: Your password has expired?
And you start sweating …you must use one uppercase character, at least one lowercase alphabetic character, at least one symbol and at least one number.
Oh, and the whole damn thing can’t be less than 8 characters.
Don’t even think about using any of the passwords you’ve used in the last 3 months.
Instead, cool off and celebrate Password Day with some of the most famous (but mostly rubbish) passwords in history.
Remember, no matter how useless your password is, it’s better than the one that guarded US nukes for 20 years!
Password to launch US nuclear missiles was: “00000000”
The Strategic Air Command thought the eight-digit combinations necessary to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles were for wimps and fraidy-cats.
So the combination for intercontinental ballistic missiles was kept at “00000000.”
Until 1977, no real safety measures were ever in place.
That’s 20 years of “00000000.”
This was revealed by Bruce G. Blair, PhD, who was a Minuteman launch officer then.
Now the head of the Center for Defense Information, he says:
“Our launch checklist, in fact, instructed us, the firing crew, to double-check the locking panel in our underground launch bunker to ensure that no digits other than zero had been inadvertently dialed into the panel.”
When Blair told McNamara about this in 2004, the old warmonger went ballistic. “I am shocked, absolutely shocked and outraged,” he blustered. “Who the hell authorized that?”
In Hollywood films, the 00000000 code has become a common trope for mass destruction.
In Star Trek 3, the destruct code of the USS Enterprise was 000-destruct-0.
Careful how you say it in the 12th century
The concept of the password can be traced back to the “shibboleth incident” in the 12th chapter of the biblical Book of Judges.
In the battle between the tribes of Gilead and Ephraim, Gileadite soldiers used the word “shibboleth” to spot their enemies.
They knew that the Ephraimites pronounced it slightly differently in their dialect.
The penalty for incorrect password was death.
“Then said they unto him, ‘Say now Shibboleth’; and he said ‘Sibboleth’; for he could not frame to pronounce it right; then they laid hold on him, and slew him at the fords of the Jordan.”
The first computer password was useless too.
Twenty-five years after the fact, Allan Scherr came clean about the earliest documented case of password theft.
In the spring of 1962, Scherr was looking for a way to bump up his usage time on the computer system (CTSS).
He was allotted only four hours per week, so he simply printed out all of the passwords stored on the system.
To spread the guilt around, Scherr then handed the passwords over to other users.
One of them — J.C.R. Licklieder — promptly logged into the account of the computer lab’s director Robert Fano, and left “taunting messages” behind.
Yep, the first troll right after the first leak
One of the most famous passwords in history: ncc1701
What’s so special about this password?
It’s the serial number of the USS Enterprise, the main ship on Star Trek.
Amazingly, it’s one of theever!
So don’t use obscure pop culture references as your password.
They may not be as obscure as you think.
User: President Clinton Password: Buddy
Buddy was the “secret” password used to protect the President’s private key or smart card for signing a bill using a digital signature.
Clinton was ridiculed for apparently sharing the password with the attending dignitaries and reporters in Philadephia.
The password was his dog’s name.
The best part? The bill was the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act.
Facebook loves Chuck Norris
In 2010, an anonymous Facebook engineer claimed in an interview that, at one time, employees could log into any Facebook profile using a master password which was Chuck Norris.
(You replace some of the letters with symbols and numbers).
She claimed she had personally used it and knew of two other employees who had used it to log in and manipulate other users’ data and were subsequently fired.
While she said the password no longer worked, it didn’t really matter.
It was replaced by a tool which let Facebook employees log in as another user with the click of a button – provided they had a good reason(!) to do so.
Time for Assad to change the code on his luggage
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s staff used one password for many of their internal email accounts as reported by Haaretz.
It probably didn’t take Anonymous (who leaked hundreds of Assad’s emails) long to crack it – 12345.
The Star Wars parody Spaceballs involves a devious plot by Planet Spaceballs to steal the password combination which protects Planet Druidia’s precious atmosphere.
When Dark Helmet finds out the ridiculously simple password:
“1-2-3-4-5? That’s the stupidest combination I’ve ever heard of in my life! That’s the kinda thing an idiot would have on his luggage!”
Later in the same scene, when they tell the password to the president of Planet Spaceballs, he replies,
“1, 2, 3, 4, 5? That’s amazing! I’ve got the same combination on my luggage!”
Has President Assad been seen with his luggage lately?
Big Bang Theory Password Theory
The most famous password from The Big Bang Theory is probably “pennygetyourownwifi, no spaces.”
The other ones are “Penny is a freeloader” and “Penny already eats our food, she can pay for Wi-Fi”.
See the video at 14 seconds.
Why hunter2 is a famous password
An IRC user named AzureDiamond was famously tricked into revealing their password, hunter2.
The exchange was immortalized on Bash.org:
<Cthon98> hey, if you type in your pw, it will show as stars
<Cthon98> ********* see!
<AzureDiamond> doesnt look like stars to me
<Cthon98> <AzureDiamond> *******
<Cthon98> thats what I see
<AzureDiamond> oh, really?
<AzureDiamond> you can go hunter2 my hunter2-ing hunter2
<AzureDiamond> haha, does that look funny to you?
<Cthon98> lol, yes. See, when YOU type hunter2, it shows to us as *******
<AzureDiamond> thats neat, I didnt know IRC did that
<Cthon98> yep, no matter how many times you type hunter2, it will show to us as *******
<AzureDiamond> wait, how do you know my pw?
<Cthon98> er, I just copy pasted YOUR ******’s and it appears to YOU as hunter2 cause its your pw
<AzureDiamond> oh, ok.
Post the “your password shows up as ******” anywhere in tech circles and see how fast “hunter2” comes back.
Siobhan O’Shea is a freelance writer. She writes about pretty much everything but especially likes to bring readers’ attention to new tech, marketing, human behavior, and other oddities.