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Adobe's colossal password leak becomes a playable crossword puzzle

Adobe's colossal password leak becomes a playable crossword puzzle

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Adobe's been embarrassed over the past few weeks after it was revealed that some 150 million customer records were leaked online — and that Adobe had been using some questionable methods to protect that information in the first place. In a clever spin, some of that information has been turned into a playable crossword puzzle that helps remind people just how insecure common password choices can be.

Ben Falconer put together the project, called simply Adobe Crossword, after being inspired by the web comic XKCD. The collection of 10 crossword puzzles use the most common 1,000 passwords found in the leak as its answers, with up to 50 user-supplied clues serving as the questions. There's a heavy dose of the obvious — "adobereader," "password1," and even "0123456789" all make appearances — though there's also a mixture of car and pop culture references.

Adobe came under fire because although the passwords themselves had been encrypted the user emails and password hints had been stored as text. Falconer writes that he can't be absolutely certain that the answers in his puzzles are correct, but given the hints and the general tendency for people to be less than careful when it comes to picking passwords his choices appear to be quite clearly correct. In either case, the crossword serves as a gamified reminder of the importance of picking unique — and secure — passwords for every online account you use.

If you happen to notice your own password in the puzzle, Falconer writes, you should stop using it immediately. "The current best practice for passwords," he writes, "is to generate a unique random password for every login and use a password management service such as KeePass, RoboForm, or LastPass."