Maverick John McAfee offers to break the encryption on the iPhone of San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook
Apple has received more public support from fellow tech companies over its refusal to unlock the iPhone belonging to terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook.
Meanwhile security expert John McAfee has made a public offer to the FBI to hack into the dead terrorist’s handset.
Earlier this week Apple was ordered by a US court to provide “reasonable technical assistance” to authorities to allow the FBI to access Farook’s iPhone.
Farook and his wife murdered 14 people in San Bernardino, California, on December 2.
But Apple refused the “chilling” court order in a open letter to its customers written by CEO Tim Cook. He warned that the court order sets a “dangerous precedent”.
That refusal drew condemnation from some quarters, notably the family of Fusilier Lee Rigby, the solider brutally murdered by extremists in 2013 outside his London barracks.
Experts have also questioned Apple’s legal footing for its refusal, and cast doubt on its claims that the FBI request amounted to the creation of a backdoor for all iPhones.
Now Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft have stepped into the argument and added their support for Apple boss Tim Cook.
“We condemn terrorism and have total solidarity with victims of terror,” Facebook reportedly said in a statement. “Those who seek to praise, promote, or plan terrorist acts have no place on our services.”
“However, we will continue to fight aggressively against requirements for companies to weaken the security of their systems,” said Facebook. “These demands would create a chilling precedent and obstruct companies’ efforts to secure their products.”
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey took to Twitter to add his support.
“We stand with @tim_cook and Apple (and thank him for his leadership)!” tweeted Dorsey. He also provided a link to Cook’s bullish statement on the matter.
Microsoft meanwhile, which has been leading tech opposition against attempts by the US government to gain access to user data, also added its support for Apple. For a while now Microsoft has been quietly fighting a challenge against federal prosecutors who want access to a customer’s email data stored in Ireland.
“@ReformGS statement on Apple court case http://bit.ly/1Krc2wS,” tweeted Microsoft’s chief legal officer Brad Smith. “Essential to have broad public discussion on these important issues.”
Meanwhile anti-virus software creator John McAfee has offered to break the encryption on the Farook’s iPhone for the FBI, free of charge.
McAfee is a known maverick and is currently campaigning as a US presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party. He claims to wants break the iPhone in question so that Apple will not have to create a backdoor itself.
“Using an obscure law, written in 1789 – the All Writs Act – the US government has ordered Apple to place a back door into its iOS software so the FBI can decrypt information on an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters,” McAfee wrote in an article for Business Insider.
“This is a black day and the beginning of the end of the US as a world power,” wrote McAfee. “The FBI, in a laughable and bizarre twist of logic, said the back door would be used only once and only in the San Bernardino case.”
“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,” wrote McAfee.
He then went to question why the FBI has not been able to crack this particular iPhone, and suggested it was because it didn’t have good enough hackers, as it refuses to hire talented people with funny haircuts and piercings.
“I work with a team of the best hackers on the planet,” wrote McAfee. “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.”
“So here is my offer to the FBI. I will, free of charge, decrypt the information on the San Bernardino phone, with my team,” wrote McAfee. “We will primarily use social engineering, and it will take us three weeks. If you accept my offer, then you will not need to ask Apple to place a back door in its product, which will be the beginning of the end of America.”
“If you doubt my credentials, Google “cybersecurity legend” and see whose name is the only name that appears in the first 10 results out of more than a quarter of a million,” he stated.
It remains to be seen whether the FBI will take up McAfee on his offer.
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