Bad news conspiracy theorists. QAnon codes are just a guy mashing his keyboard

Graham Cluley

Bad news conspiracy theorists. QAnon's codes are just a guy mashing his keyboard

Crazy typing

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.

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:
2-8-2-1-2-9-8-3-8-2-1-2-8-1-7-2-3-9-u-7-2-1

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.

Keyboard heatmap

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.

Further reading: The psychology of Qanon: Why do seemingly sane people believe bizarre conspiracy theories?

Hat-tip: Motherboard.

Graham Cluley Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

3 Replies to “Bad news conspiracy theorists. QAnon codes are just a guy mashing his keyboard”

    1. He did. Doofus. It doesn't take a genius to recognize a continued pattern once you've figured it out.

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