By Graham Smith on November 25th, 2013 at 1:00 pm.
Hackers recently got hold of details for 153 million Adobe accounts (including mine – thanks Adobe!), including user emails, password hints, and encrypted passwords. This means that, if you have a password hint that points obviously to your password, then you should check whether your details were leaked and change your password immediately.
Once you’ve done that, you should play Adobe Crossword. Inspired by this XKCD comic, it uses password hints and password lengths for the 1000 most popular passwords to generate crossword puzzles. They’re unexpectedly brilliant.
I enjoy regular crossword puzzles, but I actually prefer these strange puzzles. Instead of being given a single, sideways hint for each line, you’re given a collection of different hints. Here’s seven across:
1234; 1q; same; usual; 123; 1; qwer; keyboard; ????; qwer1234; ??; qwerty; easy; 12; rewq4321; 14qr; standard; 12qw; ???; normal; numbers; none; always; 1r; top left; password; 4×4; ??????; la de siempre; ?????; the usual; lol; ???????; dog; asdfzxcv; asdf; ; work; simple; numbers and letters; no; key; first four; a; 8; 1q2w3e4r; 123qwe; you know; wie immer; teclado
This is a pretty easy one, but there’s a neat trick in separating those people who used the actual password as their hint, to people who used slight variations on it. With each letter you slot into place, it feels like you’re getting a glimpse into human psychology. Idiot human psychology.
As you tick down the list, from a crossword based on the top 100 most popular passwords, to the 900-1000 most popular, the puzzles never become that hard. As the words become more varied – “password” begins to disappear – the hints become no less explicit. 4 down, “horse with a horn”, is pretty self-explanatory. (The answer is of course “sexyhorse”).
The site’s FAQ aims to put fears to rest about whether the game poses a security risk, but if anything, I think the game is educational. Don’t use “mickey” as your password and “mouse” as your hint, friends. If you’re anything like me, fifteen years of internet messageboards means that you’re passwords are being leaked every other month, and that’s going to continue until we get rid of the stupid things.