SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – Cyber security legend John McAfee has offered the services of his team of hackers to decrypt an iPhone used by one of the killers in the San Bernardino massacre.
Cracking the encryption on the iPhone has triggered a national security debate after Apple refused a court order to build a backdoor to allow FBI investigators to examine information on the phone.
The iPhone was used by Syed Farook, who along with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people in December in the worst terror attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.
The federal government said it needs to break the encryption to see if there is any information as to who Farook may have been in communication with before the attack.
In a piece published in the Business Insider on Thursday, McAfee was critical of the government’s efforts to force Apple to develop software to break the encryption technology built into the phone.
Instead of a backdoor, McAfee offered his services and that of his team of security experts to break the encryption.
“I work with a team of the best hackers on the planet. These hackers attend Defcon in Las Vegas, and they are legends in their local hacking groups, such as HackMiami,” he wrote. “They are all prodigies, with talents that defy normal human comprehension.”
“About 75% are social engineers. The remainder are hardcore coders. I would eat my shoe on the Neil Cavuto show if we could not break the encryption on the San Bernardino phone. This is a pure and simple fact.”
McAfee was skeptical of the FBI’s claim that it would not reuse the Apple backdoor if it was built.
“No matter how you slice this pie, if the government succeeds in getting this back door, it will eventually get a back door into all encryption, and our world, as we know it, is over,” he wrote. “In spite of the FBI’s claim that it would protect the back door, we all know that’s impossible.”
McAfee said the FBI should already have a team in place to break the phone code, but is put off by the hacker lifestyle.
“The FBI will not hire anyone with a 24-inch purple mohawk, 10-gauge ear piercings, and a tattooed face who demands to smoke weed while working and won’t work for less than a half-million dollars a year,” he wrote. “But you bet your ass that the Chinese and Russians are hiring similar people with similar demands and have been for many years. It’s why we are decades behind in the cyber race.”
While McAfee is an icon in the Silicon Valley, he has had his own legal woes over the last several years.
He was named as a person of interest in the death of American expatriate Gregory Viant Faull by the Belize police.
McAfee fled to Guatemala, where he was taken into custody by local authorities. He eventually was deported by to the United States and has not been charged with any crimes in Belize.