If you use the password CorrectHorseBatteryStaple you may want to change it. This week, security researcher Troy Hunt revealed that someone recently breached the XKCD forums database. The attacker made this database public and released usernames, email addresses, and hashed passwords. Somewhat ironically XKCD, created by Randall Munroe, focuses on technical and IT humor. One such comic gives the example “CorrectHorseBatteryStaple” as a good password, but only as an example. Users weren’t supposed to actually use it!
We managed to get our hands on the breached database. While most of the passwords used MD5 phpbb3, some used simple MD5 and some used Bcrypt. Now, about half the passwords have been cracked. Reviewing these cracked passwords, we found some interesting statistics.
13 people used CorrectHorseBatteryStaple as their password. Why anyone would use this baffles us.
1,911 users used 123456789
1,655 users used abcdef123
We suspect bots make up many users on the forums. Many of the passwords in the top 20 most-used list don’t match commonly used passwords and don’t look like a password that someone would make up. Bots commonly use passwords like “3rJs1la7qE”. We saw 6,200 records with this password.
For users on the XKCD forums, change your passwords and if you reuse your password change your password on those sites as well. Like the comic says, when creating a password use less common words in a phrase. This makes the password much easier to remember and much safer. Some say this leads to easy dictionary attacks but a four-word password that doesn’t use common words would still take far too long for a dictionary attack to be viable.