Researcher Mark Burnett is a world authority on passwords. Think I’m kidding? He has collected millions of passwords over the last couple of decades, and has written a book about the real-life password analyses he has done.
It shouldn’t be any surprise then to hear that he’s the kind of guy who’s familiar with the different way people choose passwords – including those who think they can generate a really random password by just mashing their keyboard like a crazy man.
Enter the bat-shit crazy QAnon conspiracy theory, which – amongst other things – believes that there is a huge undiscovered paedophile ring run by the powerful liberal elite.
QAnon is fuelled by cryptic internet posts from “Q”, an online handle for someone who conspiracy theorists believe is a high-ranking government insider.
I was looking at some 𝑸𝑨𝒏𝒐𝒏 posts and saw this one with "codes" which I find pretty interesting considering how many years I have spent staring at and analyzing millions passwords… pic.twitter.com/bq80nXHaql
— Mark Burnett 𓆈 (@m8urnett) August 13, 2018
As he explains in a thread on Twitter, Mark Burnett has analysed some of the posts from Q and believes that segments which appear to be designed to look like “serious spy communications” may actually be generated by someone just “randomly” bashing away at their keyboard.
Although, when viewed by an expert like Burnett, perhaps not as truly randomly as Q might like to think:
Almost all the characters either alternate between left/right hand or are right next to each other on the keyboard…
So I want you to all type along:
and if you split them apart by left/right hand, you get this:
2212321123121 and 88988879y7
Now looking at the other code:
AB-aKd&Egh281Q you see that they are almost all on the same keyboard row
The funny thing about people is that even when we type random stuff we tend to have a signature. This guy, for example, likes to have his hand on the ends of each side of the keyboard (e.g., 1,2,3 and 7,8,9) and alternate…
Burnett concluded that the codes in Q’s posts aren’t actual codes, but instead “just random typing by someone who might play an instrument and uses a qwerty keyboard.”
As a final flourish he produced a keyboard heatmap of the “codes” from Q that he analysed.
Of course this won’t be enough to convince any QAnon conspiracy theorist that they’ve fallen for a heap of hokum.
They’ll just assume that this proves the conspiracy is even more powerful, able to force security researchers into posting research that debunks their bat-shit crazy beliefs.
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