They said that the war never changes – but what if it does? The introduction of digital technologies, the cyberspace of the World Wide Web has introduced new battlefields. How far will this fight go? Who has the upper hand? And can battles in virtual reality claim real lives? We ask the cyber-expert guru – John McAfee is on Sophie&Co today.
Sophie Shevarnadze: John McAfee, cyber security expert extraordinaire, inventor, entrepreneur, creator of McAfee antivirus, welcome to the show, once again, it’s really great to have you with us. So, John, the recent Apple-FBI battle over the unlocking of encrypted Iphone of the San-Bernardino shooter has ended when the FBI said it was able to access the phone’s data with the help from the third party. Should the FBI have access to the information stored on that phone, the phone of a terrorist?
John McAfee: It’s not the matter of should they have it. I mean, I guess, if he’s suspected in a crime, the question is not whether they should have access to it, it is whether they should require Apple to give them access in a manner that gives them access to all other telephones, and that’s basically what the FBI was asking.
SS: But that’s all inter-related. Do you believe the FBI did in fact get access to the phone, or did it just say it did to save face?
JM: Oh yes, absolutely, they did get access, it’s no question - they have the ability to get the access all along. The way they got access was through a device built by an Israeli company called “Cellebrite”. They had a contract with that company dating back to 2013 and it purchased thousands of these devices, so, they had the capacity all along. They just wanted to use this phone, since it was used in a terrorist act, to be a test-case to try and get the courts to force Apple to give them a backdoor.
SS: So they had to involve a third party to actually hack into that Iphone, because you’ve said that the FBI doesn’t have the capacity to carry out an Iphone hack, for instance, on its own. Why not? Why doesn’t a powerful agency like that have the resources to make things done?
JM: Well, I mean, they have the resources since they’ve purchased these devices, that’s one way of saying they have it. I think the FBI is behind the eight ball, they don’t have the capacity anymore to keep up with the changing technology. It’s a very tired organisation that doesn’t inspire creativity and innovation, and they need to follow other countries in expanding their hiring and structuring their security programs and their cybersecurity. They just haven't kept up.
SS: So, Apple has been refusing to help the FBI to get inside the phone and they were saying it would actually compromise the security of all other devices. But, after the cracking the phone, however, the FBI was quick to say that the method they used won’t work on more advanced Iphone models. So, one of the sides is definity bluffing, which one?
JM: The FBI is bluffing. The devices they have will actually break into any iphone. It’s a hardware device. It’s not a software key that you can just transmit over the internet and let everybody have it. no. It’s a hardware device. They have to buy the device, they have to have the device present and they have to put the phone into that device. So, no, the FBI is bluffing. They have the capacity, using that same company - Cellebrite - to get access to an IOS 7."
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