A BBC documentary revealed more than it planned this week, exposing the passwords used at a rail control centre.
Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford (both famous for being Alan Sugar’s sidekicks in “The Apprentice”) were on the prowl in “Nick and Margaret: The Trouble with Our Trains” on Wednesday night on BBC Two, raising their notorious querulous eyebrows at the sorry state of the British rail network.
And the dynamic duo’s travels took them to the Wessex Integrated Control Centre, located above the platform entrances at London Waterloo railway station, manned 24 hours a day by teams of controllers from both South West Trains and Network Rail.
Maybe it would be a good idea to blur the passwords before broadcast next time or - even better - not have them stuck onto your monitor in the first place?
While you’re at it, a stronger password than “Password3” might be an idea as well.
Just a thought…
Of course, just knowing a password doesn’t mean that it can necessarily be exploited by anyone remotely. It’s quite possible that the password is for the purpose of logging into the physical desktop computer itself, but still… You’ve reduced the point of a password if you’ve stuck it on the very device which needs the password.
Coincidentally, BBC News ran a story just last week discussing fears that computer systems controlling the signal system in the UK could be vulnerable to hacking attacks.
This isn’t, of course, the first time that an organisation has made the schoolboy mistake of letting a TV company into its offices, only to discover passwords have been exposed in the background.
For instance, there was the Sky News report from the emergency flood centre, or CBS’s report from the Super Bowl’s top secret security center, or - most fabulously - French TV station TV5MONDE discussing how its systems were recently hacked… while revealing yet more passwords at the same time.
For the next month or so, UK television license payers can watch “Nick and Margaret: The Trouble with Our Trains” on BBC iPlayer.
The passwords are revealed at about 43 minutes into the programme.