792: Password Reuse

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 21:28, 5 March 2013 by (talk) (Summarized most of the comic's details & content)
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Password Reuse
It'll be hilarious the first few times this happens.
Title text: It'll be hilarious the first few times this happens.


This comic has 3 parts.

It starts off on a practical level, with Black Hat describing an intelligent hack, relying on social engineering. This hack relies on the fact that people commonly reuse the same password on multiple websites, and tend to create accounts on new websites somewhat indiscriminately. Thus, one could create a simple & somewhat useful web service, so as to induce lots of people to create accounts on the website. The website owner now knows all these users' usernames, email addresses, and passwords. Since many users will reuse this combination of username/email/password on other websites as well, the website owner can now attempt to log into other common sites, such as amazon or paypal, using the same login-info. This can be done automatically using scripts, which can then keep track of all successfully hacked sites & profiles.

The comic now transitions suddenly from the practical, into the philosophical & existential. Black hat reveals that he has already carried out step 1 successfully, through his numerous unprofitable web-services which he had been running for this very purpose. However, after successfully executing the hack, he realizes that he does not know what to do with all this power. He reveals that he is already financially self sufficient, and studies have shown further riches not to make one happier, so using this hack to make more money does not seem like a worthy goal. He could use this power to realize his sadistic pleasures of messing with people, but he is "doing that already." If he has any beliefs or ideology, he could use this power to empower said beliefs & ideology. However, he reveals that "as of March 1997" he has no beliefs or ideology that he is dedicated to empowering. Hence his existential dilemma. He has very cleverly executed a hack that has given him a lot of power, but he does not know what to do with it.

The last part of the comic now transitions to a satire on how Google has already gone through both the stages described above. It describes how all of Google's free services are simply a ploy to collect and control all the world's information, similar in concept but grander than the hack described in part 1. It satirizes the fact that behind Google's "Don't be evil" motto is actually an end-goal of using their powers eventually for evil. However, just like Black Hat, once Google reaches the stage where they are able to capitalize on their powers, they find that there is nothing evil left for them to desire. They already make a lot of money, and anything remaining that they wish to do, such as throwing CoD tournaments, aren't evil at all.

In the conclusion, Black Hat reveals that the only thing he's doing with all his hacked user accounts is to post slightly inaccurate content on Wiki sites.


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And now it turns out that Google gives our data to NSA....sigh. 07:58, 11 June 2013 (UTC)Monica

What happened in March of 1997? MR (talk) 18:23, 4 April 2013 (UTC)MR

Hi! After consulting Wikipedia's article about March 1997 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1997), I think there are two main incidents Black Hat could refer to:

  • The Phoenix Lights, a group of supposed UFOs, turned out to be probably military aircrafts.
  • The mass suicide committed by 39 Heaven's Gate cultists.

Since we know little about Black Hat's life in 1997, we could argue that he was expecting an extra-terrestrial contact or that he was attracted by the ideas of that creed - and that the disillusion brought him his present disbelief in things. Of course those are just hypotheses, and don't seem to fit the character as we know him...Inverno1407 (talk) 11:30, 15 April 2013 (UTC)

I honestly believe that he created the Heaven's Gate cult and he views their mass suicide as his crowning achievement in getting people to believe things, it just isn't getting any better than that, so he doesn't believe in anything anymore. 13:03, 30 October 2015 (UTC)

"In the conclusion, Black Hat reveals that the only thing he's doing with all his hacked user accounts is to post slightly inaccurate content on Wiki sites."

This paragraph has been present since this explanation was added. I can't see how it is arrived at from the comic. (So I wonder who User: might have been...) Mark Hurd (talk) 14:10, 15 April 2013 (UTC)

I removed some slightly inaccurate content from this wiki. It was the bit about Black Hat posting slightly inaccurate content on wiki sites. 00:33, 15 May 2013 (UTC)

Does anyone know if he had anything to do with the article on "taking the piss"?

I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 16:10, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

How does this compare in light of 792:Password Reuse? Saibot84 (talk) 05:06, 6 June 2013 (UTC)

The "March 1997" issue is still a mystery to me. May be a global computer virus attack? I will go through all days on wikipedia. The month summery presents not the solution.--Dgbrt (talk) 17:27, 6 June 2013 (UTC)

Conisdering how blackhat loves messing with people, I seriously doubt anything at all hapened in March 1997. He's just messing with us! 02:43, 7 July 2013 (UTC)

Oooo, I dunno. Given Black Hat's odd tastes, *anything* from March 1997 could have caused him to lose his faith: Paul McCartney being knighted, Tom Cruise winning an Oscar, the U.S. Supreme Court hearing arguments on Internet Indecency, India's Ministry of Charity choosing a successor to Mother Theresa, Gene Roddenberry's ashes going into orbit, the Brazil Senate finally allowing women members to wear slacks... Anything!! [[1]]

Wow, look at this historical CNN page: http://edition.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1997/03/19/scotus.cda/. The Communications Decency Act is the most likely item from your list.--Dgbrt (talk) 08:21, 2 August 2013 (UTC)
39 Heaven's Gate cultists committed mass suicide
If he was upset at causing their deaths or having accomplished their deaths, has little to prove now nor reason to repeat the act, he is on pause; we wait.
I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 16:10, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

My opinion is that Black Hat referred to Bill Clinton banning federal funding for research on human cloning in March 1997. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

How would that create an hiatus in Back Hat's career?

I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 16:10, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

Hey! I though I'd throw in the opinion that perhaps March 1997 was a month of personal importance to Black Hat rather than anything societal. If the 1997 coincides with any of those standard "loss of idealism and innocence years" for Black Hat, then I'd say that's pretty likely what Randall was going for. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Hi - the last line about the TV show DIBS is wrong. DIBS came out in 2014 - the comic in 2010. What the last panel is referring to is calling dibs on the TV to play CoD4. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Google's "don't be evil" is no more

Google removed that "don't be evil" thing from their motto...

  • password change intensifies* 06:35, 5 July 2019 (UTC)