Eccentric cyber security millionaire John McAfee has bragged that his team of ‘the best hackers on the planet’ could break into the San Bernardino terrorists’ iPhone in three weeks for free.
McAfee, 70, who now lives in Tennessee but spent years on the run while claiming government assassins were trying to kill him, said he would publicly eat his shoe if he failed.
He also defended Apple’s decision to fight a court order forcing them to hack through their own security on Friday, questioning why the FBI had been unable to do it themselves.
McAfee, who created the security software that shares his name, told Business Insider he has created a team of expert hackers ‘with talents that defy normal human comprehension’.
He claimed the only reason they do not already work for the FBI is because the agency ‘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’.
McAfee went on to say that his team would ‘primarily’ use social engineering in order to crack the code, and set a time limit of three weeks.
Social engineering is a hacking practice whereby the target is tricked or scared into giving away information that allows hackers access to their computer.
Typical attacks include phising emails, such as messages claiming your computer is infected with a virus and asking you to enter your security information, or claiming you are due to inherit money and asking for banking details.
However, since both terrorists Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik are dead, it is unclear how exactly McAfee intends to trick either of them into giving their passwords away.
McAfee, who is running for President as a candidate for his own Libertarian Party, also claimed Apple was to refuse to help the FBI access the information on the iPhone.
He said that by forcing Apple to create a backdoor, the FBI would cause ‘the end of the U.S. as a world power’.
He said that the weak spot would be exploited by the likes of the Chinese and Russians to wage a cyber war that America would loose.
He added: ‘The Government has ordered a disarmament of our already ancient cybersecurity and cyberdefense systems, and it is asking us to take a walk into that near horizon where cyberwar is unquestionably waiting, with nothing more than harsh words as a weapon and the hope that our enemies will take pity at our unarmed condition and treat us fairly.’
Earlier this week a California judge ordered Apple to help FBI agents get into the iPhone owned by Farook and Malik, the San Bernardino terrorists who killed 14 people late last year.
The order would compel Apple to create a new version of its iOS software with a security backdoor built in and install it on the phone, allowing agents to recover the encrypted data.
While the FBI insists that such technology would only be used once on this particular phone, Apple CEO Tim Cook has argued it is impossible to guarantee that.
Cook has said Apple will fight the judgement in order to protect customers’ privacy, and has since been backed by executives from Google, Facebook and Twitter.