I just saw this SMBC comic: http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?id=3955

I realize that this is not actually "reverse social engineering" as typical usage of the term. However, I'm wondering in theory how effective a method like this (or a variant thereof) would be.

Specifically, I'm wondering how effective it is to leave some sort of message (or perhaps code?) inside your password so as to deter hackers from actually using your password. Is there a way to make this have some utility, or is it just completely silly?

2 Answers 2


It is pretty completely silly, if we ignore the lowest level of those capable of retrieving your password (e.g. your teenage kid).

For anybody else - they are unlikely to ever see your password with their own eyes, since the whole exploit process is typically scripted, if not fully automated.
So the whole usage scenario would be moot regardless.

And, hypothetically, what could you possibly say that would deter criminals from doing criminalish activities? E.g. even see the votey image... Perhaps "ImBatmanAndIKnowWhereYouLive".

And yet another aspect to consider - if that statement was really so powerful, it would still not be useful: there is the downside that the password owner still needs to be typing in his password, and the maternal disappointment effect would backfire.

That said, I did find it amusing, but @Zach is a very smart guy, so I don't think he meant it to be taken seriously in any way.

  • Unless... this is a sneaky buildup to his next BAHFest proposal?? :D
    – AviD
    Dec 15, 2015 at 1:32

Although I have never used it with passwords I HAVE used it when obfuscating source code. Adding comments in code berating any user who attempts to deobfuscate the code. If you're using a password to deter, once they have the password it doesn't matter what it says. The only feasible application of your idea is when it is possible to get pieces of the password at a time.

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