I was watching The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Lisbeth Salander was really good at hacking computers as well as other security breaking skills, to the point where it was way too easy to do from a real life standpoint. This isn’t the first movie that’s treated hackers this way, showing them breaking stuff too easily, or going about it in a fantastic way.
Why do movies make hackers out to be geniuses, or show spectacular ways to hack computers?
First, movies are unrealistic in these regards. It's no different than the "realism" of zooming in on security cameras and cleaning up the images. It's just not realistic, but it makes for good entertainment and helps with plot advancement.
However, that said, there are plenty of people with easy-to-guess passwords. I know plenty of otherwise intelligent people who don't bother with good passwords, don't change them frequently, etc. Intelligence is no deterrent to bad password management, and therefore, super-villains and bad guys are just as likely to have easy-to-guess passwords.
If I were to try to crack into an account without brute force, I'd start with the basic easy-to-guess passwords, and count on the stupidity of the people I'm trying to hack. Or I'd resort to social engineering. "I'm from the helpdesk and I need to get rid of a virus on your PC. Can you give me your username and password so I can log in and do it?" (You'd be surprised how many people fall for this.)
An easy way to induce "willing suspension of disbelief" for the sake of password cracking in the movies, I tend to favor the "weak password" scenario as it's the most realistic.Tweet