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This page (like others in the Useless Trivia space) exist to provide analysis and review of computer security in films. Reviews of usernames and passwords used in these films will be mentioned as they can be found and identified.
War Games: Suspense
First, you should know there is no single "launch code" in WarGames. There are several launch codes! The most common one starts with "CPE" but there appears to be a "JPE" code that has a difference in the first letter. Then there are the drill scenario "fake" launch code and the "real" launch code when the humans are replaced with computers. For many exceptions, I try to note the time in the movie on DVD.
Near the beginning of the film, two guys are walking into a silo control center. Outside the door/elevator, there is a keypad system. We hear 4 tones as though four keypad characters were pressed. The first code looks like it was pressed from far away. With 4x zoom, I cant tell what character was pressed, but it looks like a character from the top left quadrant. This would likely be either a 1, 2, 4, or 5. When we get a close-up of the keypad with the fingers pressing letters, it looks like the first digit would have been a 4. Code entered was likely:
4*33 <--- most likely 1*33 <--- next most likely 14*33 <--- seems unlikely as we only hear 4 tones, but visually... ?$*33 <--- where "?" is replaced with 1,2,4, or 5
on a keypad that looked like this:
Keypad: --------- |1 2 3 A| |4 5 6 B| |7 8 9 C| |* 0 # D| ---------
Launch attempt 1:
In the story, we open to the change in shifts for the missile silo. There is a "test launch" where the two soldiers are tested to see if they can actually launch the missiles when they are told to do so. They are given two, four-letter passphrases: Passphrase Line1: "RONC" (Romeo, Oscar, November Charlie) Passphrase Line2: "TTLA" (Tango, Tango, Lima, Alpha) Authentication1: "220040" (Two, Two, Zero, Zero, Four, Zero) Authentication2: "DL" (Delta, Lima) Guessing the above "Passphrases (?)" could be targets ,and the first authentication is for the targets above, and the second authentication could be a checksum. The lockbox that contains both keys needed to launch missiles have combination locks with 4 digits each (roller wheel.) Quality of DVD not sufficient in zoom to tell the numbers. :-( Also, Hollywood films can use locks that unlock with any combination so the actors need not be troubled with "getting it right" while the camera is rolling. ( WOPR = W.O.P.R. = War Operations Plan Respopnse ) ERROR: On the next screen, we see they have a monochrome CRT: " WOPR EXECUTION ORDER K36.948.3 PART ONE: R O N C T T L PART TWO: 07:20:35 LAUNCH CODE: D L G 2 2 0 9 T V X TARGET SELECTION: COMPLETE TIME ON TARGET SEQUENCE: COMPLETE YIELD SELECTION: COMPLETE ENABLE MISSLIES LAUNCH TIME:
BEGIN COUNTDOWNT MINUS 60 SECONDS " ("60" seconds field decrements) Notice that "PART ONE" here on this CRT is actually the letters for part one and two put together, *but* the last letter "A" is missing from the concatenated two parts mentioned above? ("RONCTTL" on this screen instead of "RONCTTLA") Also, "DL" is the last "authentication" mentioned, but is the first part of the launch code.
Hacking the grades:
In the story, our main character (David Lightman) gets himself in trouble on purpose to be sent to the principal's office. (What he does to get into trouble is make a statement in private to a classmate when this dialog takes place: Mr. Liggett: "Alright, Lightman. Maybe you can tell us who first suggested the idea of reproduction without sex." David Lightman: "Um, your wife?" ) He arrives to grab the newest passwords to the school system. Later we find, this was for him to change his grades and the grades of a fellow classmate he wishes to impress. He slides out a paper tray on an office desk immediately outside the principal's office. Upon this desk-paper-tray is a note taped to it with passwords written in plain-text. Slowing down the DVD (much better then the VHS) I was able to grab these: 1) Milkman? Milkmoney? (Unreadable - just guesses) 2) (Unreadable suggestions?) 3) PuBLIC (Noted case) 4) Visual (?) (questionable) 4) VERBAL (?) (questionable) 4) vandal (?) (questionable) 4) vernal (?) (questionable) 4) mutual (?) (questionable) 4) (Unreadable suggestions?) 5) BITTER (?) (questionable) 5) BUTTER (?) (questionable) 5) BUFFER (?) (questionable) 5) DriFTER (?) (questionable) 5) (Unreadable suggestions?) 6) HANDLe (?) (Noted case last char may be "E") 6) HANDLE (?) (Noted case last char may be "e") 7) EFFORT (Noted case) 8) Points (?) (Noted case first "P" is bigger) 8) POINTS (?) (Noted case but later chars look like small uppercase) 9) Double (Noted case) 10) Pencil (Noted case)
While looking at the protovision ad, he notes their address: (It looks like the address still does not exist as a valid street address in Sunnyvale according to Yahoo Maps.
Protovision Inc. 2407 Rogers Blvd. Sunnyvale, C 95051
Games at "Protovision" : FALKEN'S MAZE, BLACK JACK, GIN RUMMY, HEARTS, BRIDGE, CHECKERS, CHESS, POKER, FIGHTER COMBAT, GUERRILA ENGAGEMENT, DESERT WARFARE, AIR-TO-GROUND ACTIONS, THEATERWIDE TACTICAL WARFARE, THEATERWIDE BIOTOXIC AND CHEMICAL WARFARE, GLOBAL THERMONUCLEAR WAR.
License plate of van that picks up David Lightman: G10 89010
Guessing easy passwords:
After doing some research on the creator of the system's games, the main character and his partner are talking, and after discussing the dead son of the professor, our main character guesses the professor may have used the professor's dead son's name as a password: The "password" used to log on to the WOPR machine as Professor Falken: "Joshua" (Falken's dead son.) NOTE1: It should be noted that it was actually the logon "Username" and there was no password. Some will argue that Joshua was the password. Some will argue that it was the username and the password was just blank, or non-existent. Some will further point to the "password" (or username) as being echoed like modern password entry systems usually don't echo characters. You argue what you want. The info is listed here, you decide username or password. NOTE2: The password/username is case sensitive "Joshua"
Unrelated to computer security:
(Part: David arrives home. Just before the "good report card" scene, listen to the TV.) (@ 00:46:37) TV has a news story "Prophylactic recycling center..." Uh... That initially sounds odd. Perhaps they meant a "condom exchange" not a recycling center. Yeesh!
This may be nit-picking, but prophylactic rubber is used in many things and the report would be about a general purpose recycling center, not one for condoms. Point of fact, most rubbers have not been made of prophylactic for several decades now. Quite a few people have reactions to it, and it would be the worst place to have a reaction. Most rubbers are made of latex since the late 50's.
Code on hardware added to missile silo to replace human missile commanders: (Or the third character may be an "8" instead of a "B") (@ 23:25)
"JOB 9515 VNS"
When David is in "Crystal Palace" the first time and uses McKittrick's terminal we see the "classified" address of Steven Falken on a monochrome green and black screen: (Yes it was in all caps.)
DOD PENSION FILES INDICATE CURRENT MAILING AS: DR. ROBERT HUME (A.K.A. STEPHEN W. FALKEN 5 TALL CEDAR ROAD GOOSE ISLAND, OREGON 97014
Keypad door lock code:
Later in the film, he is taken to "Emerald Palace" (the missile command center in the mountain) and eventually locked in a medical observation room. The door has a keypad with audible tones that sound like "telephone touchtones" in the film (this keypad may be a "Hollywood fake-prop" with no real-world match) in order to control access. Our main character searches through the room looking for drawers to find tools. all but one of the drawers are locked. After removing the unlocked drawer, he is able to gain access to the contents of the locked drawer immediately below the unlocked one. Inside one drawer, he finds a mini tape recorder. This tape recorder he attaches to the keypad to record the tones. He knock on the door to ask to go to the bathroom, and when the guard on the other side enters his keycode, the tape recorder records it. Our main character plays back the recorded tones and the door is unlocked. Actual keycode entered was "444666" based on the order of keys pressed, and a close-up of the keypad later. Keypad: --------- |1 2 3 A| |4 5 6 B| |7 8 9 C| |* 0 # D| --------- I made this guess (instead of "444555") as a result of zooming in on the keypad for the last attempt made by the guard after our main character locked the door When you look at this, the distance for hovering over the "4" is about the same as it would be for pressing the "6". For me, it was "444666". Check it yourself if you wish.
On screen: " LOGON: [chop blank lines] 7KQ201 McKittrick " Suggesting that his password may be "7KQ201" and his username is McKittrick, or the reverse, or his username includes a space...
End of movie, brute forced launch code (brute forced by WOPR)
There is a discrepency in the launch codes. The WOPR has one set physically set on it (dials) while the code that is brute forced as "valid" is different: Launch Code/password printed on "big" screen: (Noted case) CPE1704TKS
The above launch codes found in most places near the end of the movie. With the one exception noted at the top where we see a launch code in the missle silo, and another sequence when there is focus on the WOPR (@ 01:40:29) you will notice that there is a "J" instead of a "C" as the first character.
Launch code on the WOPR: JPE 1704 TKS
The above launch code is found at 01:40:30 time on the DVD.
Also, in Hollywood fashion, the speed at which each character of the launch code is guessed is close to linear and we see each letter found as correct, as it is found. If each character were guessable independently, then this would be very weak, and parallel guesses could make this guessing game faster. In reality, if this launch code were continuous then we should expect that the whole code would be guessed, or it would not, but we would not be able to easily estimate how long (5.3 minutes) it would take unless we knew the attack method from the WOPR (algorithm) and the key itself.
Also, according to the director commentary on the DVD, DefCon 1 should be peace, while DefCon 5 is complete war. (Yet another useless fact!)
However, counter to this is a correction submitted by Jason Hartwig <JHARTWIG@Satx.rr.com> which offers a link to a page which shows the movie was correct, and the director commentary was wrong:
Best quotes: (my opinion)
Jim: "Mr Potatohead! Mr Potatohead! Backdoors are *not* secrets!... ... They are not tricks!" General: "Mr McKittrick? After very careful consideration sir, I've come to the conclusion that your new defense system sucks." General: "I'd piss on a sparkplug if I thought it'd do any good!"
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Useless Trivia: Movie reviews with respect to computer security.