This Music Video was Created from Passwords Leaked onto the Dark Web
A filmmaker downloaded a huge cache of passwords that had been leaked onto the dark web and used them to create a unique music video.
Daniel McKee used the passwords as text prompts for AI image generator DALL-E. It took four months to complete the novel video titled Password123 for the single Alone by the London-based musician HOWE.
The video visualizes passwords that belong to real people but were leaked onto the dark web in the past decade. Some of the passwords were from notorious data breaches such as when 533 million Facebook users had their personal data leaked online in 2021.
“It’s important to note that the passwords in these files are not attributed to any specific user,” Mckee tells PetaPixel.
“Instead, it is a huge 34GB anonymous list. They are also ordered by incidence, which means that the most common passwords are listed at the top, with a single password like ‘Password123’ appearing tens of thousands of times, and as you scroll down, the passwords become more and more unique.”
Mckee downloaded the passwords from Have I Been Pwned “because they are SHA1 hashed they had to be individually decrypted using online lookup tables.”
“These huge password files exist to be integrated into security systems by detecting insecure and weak passwords,” he adds.
The project offers a fascinating insight into the psyches of internet users and highlights common keyboard patterns. The passwords range from as simple as ‘QWERTY’ to as complex as ‘OBAFGKM’ — a stellar classification system for astronomers.
“The names of loved ones, pets, memorable dates, sports teams, and places were among the most common, adds Mckee.
“While random strings of letters and numbers turned out to be serial codes written on the side of mass-produced office printers.”
Mckee tells PetaPixel that it took him four months “on and off” to finish the project. The most time-consuming aspect was decrypting the passwords.
“I developed an improved faster workflow over that time using different online tools and software,” he explains.
“There was then a two-step curation process, firstly selecting interesting passwords from what was decrypted, and perhaps one in 20 felt interesting and non-repetitive,” he says.
“And secondly, selecting the best images from the AI’s output, and I’d say about 25% felt usable in terms of aesthetics from the generations I made. Quite a lot of spillage!”
Once Mckee had decrypted and selected the passwords and entered them into DALL-E for image generation; he cropped them in Photoshop and cut the edit in Premiere Pro.
In total, the video cost $200 to make which was what McKee had to pay for the DALL-E generation credits.
The music video is at the top of this page. More of Mckee’s work can be found on his Vimeo and Instagram.