Breached passwords: Popular TV shows don't make for the best security credentials

Specops recently released a roundup of the top 20 TV shows found on breached password lists. These shows offer plenty of entertainment, but aren't ideal for password inspiration. Sorry, "Cheers" fans.

Password security concept

Image: Daniel Chetroni/Shutterstock

Forgotten passwords can be a time suck and a general drag. As a result, people often resort to less than ideal cybersecurity strategies.

SEE: Password breach: Why pop culture and passwords don't mix (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

On Monday, Specops Software, a password management and authentication company, released a roundup of the popular TV shows found on breached password lists. While using a favorite television program may make it easier to remember that Netflix password, following this logic could serve as a chink in one's cybersecurity armor.

"Attackers know making a strong, memorable password is hard and that people tend to choose easy things we know," said Darren James, product specialist at Specops Software, in a post about the findings. "This latest research shows us what we know to be true–that end users are making use of the things that come easy to them in their passwords, and that includes that old favorite show they've watched for years."

SEE: Security incident response policy (TechRepublic Premium)

The inglorious list is based on a roundup of more than 800 million breached passwords that Specops compared to TV Guide's Top 50 Shows and IMDB's Top 50 Most Watched television programs. With more than 73,000 appearances on breached password lists, "The Flash" took the No. 1 spot in the Specops rankings.

While a relatively new TV show claimed the top spot, syndicated shows were well-represented in the roundup. The 90s hit series "Friends" ranked second with more than 64,000 appearances on breached passwords lists, followed by "Taxi," the late 70s/early 80s classic starring Danny DeVito, Andy Kaufman and Tony Danza, which appeared on breached password lists nearly 59,000 times.

Next, "Arrow," "Elite" and "Saturday Night Live" round out the top six, in order. Another television syndicated series and WB classic, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer," claimed the No. 7 spot, followed by "Lucifer" and "Vikings." Last but not least, the longest-running scripted show on television, "The Simpsons," rounded out Specops' top 10, and the local watering hole-centric series "Cheers" made the list at No. 11. The cult science-fiction series "X-Files" ranked 16th in the Specops roundup.

SEE: How to manage passwords: Best practices and security tips (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

More pop culture related breached password lists

This TV-centric roundup isn't Specops' first breached password list focused on popular media. In May 2021, the company released a roundup of "Star Wars"-themed breached passwords for the sci-fi holiday May 4 also known as Star Wars Day and, in July, it brought DC and Marvel universes into the mix with a list of superheroes found on compromised password lists. (Spoiler alert: Yoda and Loki top these lists, respectively.)

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By R. Dallon Adams

R. Dallon Adams is a journalist originally from Louisville, Kentucky. His previous work includes a wide spectrum of beats and formats ranging from tech-savvy urban planning initiatives to hands-on gadget reviews.