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Cellphones Crime Encryption Government Handhelds Iphone Your Rights Online

McAfee Says He Lied About iPhone Hacking Method To Get Public Attention 171

blottsie writes: McAfee, who founded of one of the first companies to offer antivirus software, claimed on CNN and Russia Today, as well as in a Business Insider column, that he could bypass the advanced encryption protecting the phone without Apple's help. But he lied in these interviews, he said in an interview with the Daily Dot, to "get a shitload of public attention."
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McAfee Says He Lied About iPhone Hacking Method To Get Public Attention

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  • Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blueshift_1 ( 3692407 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @12:15PM (#51653473)
    Obviously. Move along.
    • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @12:23PM (#51653507) Journal

      Translation from McAfeeSpeak:

      "I made it all up to sound big, bad, and awesome... but now with the FBI really interested in doing just that, well..."

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by KGIII ( 973947 )

        Pretty much. I think McAfee is awesome and we've got a few things in common - including a love of South America (and I'll leave it at that). However, he's a lunatic. We might also have that in common but my shrink assures me that I'm sane.

        At any rate... I've been earnestly asked why I'd not vote for him as president. At the time, I said (I was being polite) that I figured he should start with a lower office and demonstrate capability because he hadn't yet shown any capacity to be a politician. In hindsight,

        • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Misagon ( 1135 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @02:10PM (#51654175)

          That said. I trust him more than Donald Trump.

          At least McAfee came clean and admitted that he had been lying instead of trying to perpetuate the lie and throwing insults at anyone who questions him.

        • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Darron_Wyke ( 4491329 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @02:51PM (#51654443)
          Hell. With his lovely little South American adventure, any sort of reputation he had before is gone. Not so much burned gone, but covered in napalm and salted-the-Earth-for-good-measure gone. Anything he does now is just an attention grab.
        • by fred911 ( 83970 )

          "Start with governor or some small State or Senate or something." Screw that.

            It's time to man-up and buy a South American island in a country you can pay off to secede. Invite other like minded individuals, make passports, do it right!

          Some of us do understand (and even admire) the right to do and be as you care to, socially acceptable or not. Sounds a lot more sustainable and easier to keep the locals out of your pocket.


    • Re:Yes (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @12:27PM (#51653533)

      Ayup. The only thing noteworthy about the earlier press was the fact that he was being taken seriously, despite pulling stunts along these lines for years. The guy wants the spotlight and yearns to be seen as relevant. That time is long-since past, if it was ever here at all.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        The attention is definitely necessary if his current presidential campaign wants to succeed!
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Yes, because Americans have shown they have no problem voting for liars....

    • Re:Yes (Score:5, Funny)

      by ISoldat53 ( 977164 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @12:30PM (#51653555)
      There goes his opportunity for a job with the FBI/DEA.
    • Re:Yes or No? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Trevelyan ( 535381 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @01:34PM (#51653967)
      Maybe he's got the FBI job, and the first order of business is to discredit the possibility of being able to hack into an iPhone.

      I am surprised by how accepting the /. community is of the 'fact' that he was indeed lying.

      On a less factious note: In the days when iPhones had exploitable boot loaders, one could boot a version IOS in RAM, that let you brute force the PIN as long as you wanted to without wiping the phone. On iPhone 4 it took about 29 minutes to try all 4-digit combinations from 0000 to 9999. (The default PIN length at the time)

      The only two things stopping you today from still doing this is: 1) the lack of a known vulnerability in the boot loader, thus requiring your "Special IOS" to be signed by Apple; and 2) changes to the H/W crypto chip in new models that force longer and longer time outs before you can try another PIN.
      Although retries get longer, I don't think there is any limit set, in hardware, on how many retries you can have (yet); that's still handled by IOS.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by plover ( 150551 )

        On the newest iPhones (A7 processor and newer), the Secure Enclave enforces the rules. This is a coprocessor chip with code baked in during manufacture and is implicitly trusted. It also has the AES-256 algorithm and key that protects the storage. The key is locked in the silicon with no way to extract it; the chip manufacturer doesn't keep it and Apple never has it. In order to access the encrypted storage, the request must pass through the SE. The class keys that are used are derived from the baked-i

        • Re:Yes or No? (Score:5, Informative)

          by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @07:59PM (#51656113)

          Therefore, a change to iOS is capable of altering the 10-strikes rule on their devices, and that's what the FBI is asking Apple to do.

          Yes. Except one thing.

          Loading a recovery image requires putting the device in *Recovery Mode*, and that's a hardware DFU mode whereby you talk to a small piece of firmware whose only job is to overwrite the Flash contents.

          It doesn't load shit into RAM and run it in order to overwrite the flash contents while preserving data: it's a *RECOVERY* mode, not an *UPDATE* mode. It's what you do as a last resort, assuming you backed your crap up to the iCloud, because if you didn't, that shit is *gone*.

          To do an *UPDATE* without overwriting the user data portion of the flash contents, you talk to the *ptpd*, which implements the DFU protocol at a higher level, in user space. How do you do that? Well, first, you have to make the ptpd willing to talk to you (or iTunes). How you you do that?

          You UNLOCK the frigging phone.

          So to load the image that the FBI wants Apple to write for them, and then to load, you'd have to unlock the phone to enable you to unlock the phone.

          Cluebat here. Knock knock knock... is that you, head? Yeah, there's two DFU implementations in the iPhone. What? You didn't know that? Well now you do. Yeah. Yeah. We can write the image you want us to write, and then we can load it onto the iPhone, but to do that, it will wipe out the very data you seek. What? No, we can't make monkeys fly out our ass... I think you are confusing us with Jim Carrey in that movie "Bruce Almighty".

          People really do not understand technology... especially technology designed to prevent exactly the type of thing the FBI wants done.

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @12:19PM (#51653485)
    Aside from outright admitting it, what else is new?
  • by fnj ( 64210 )

    But we already knew that.

  • President (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    He should run for president if he is willing to lie so blatantly. Oh, looks like he already is.

    • Re:President (Score:5, Informative)

      by supremebob ( 574732 ) <> on Monday March 07, 2016 @12:38PM (#51653629) Journal

      The big difference between him and most politicians is that he's willing to admit when he's lying. Someone like a Trump or a Clinton would just say that they were just being "misunderstood", or that the media "took them out of context".

      • Re:President (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @02:12PM (#51654185)

        Clinton - and most other politicians - claim to be "misunderstood", "taken out of context", or issue insincere apologies when they are called on outright lying. (As opposed to just twisting the truth.) Trump, on the other hand, doesn't seem to care if he lies or tells the truth. When he's caught on lying (e.g. saying he saw thousands of Americans celebrating on 9-11 as the towers came down), he doubles down and insists it's true because he says it is. If he says the sky is green with pink polka dots, it doesn't matter how often you point to the blue sky above you or show him photos, he'll keep insisting it is. For someone who claims to not be a politician, he out-politicians the politicians. (And that's not meant as a compliment.)

        • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

          Trump, on the other hand, doesn't seem to care if he lies or tells the truth. When he's caught on lying (e.g. saying he saw thousands of Americans celebrating on 9-11 as the towers came down), he doubles down and insists it's true because he says it is. If he says the sky is green with pink polka dots, it doesn't matter how often you point to the blue sky above you or show him photos, he'll keep insisting it is. For someone who claims to not be a politician, he out-politicians the politicians. (And that's not meant as a compliment.)

          He's a Narcissist. One of the hallmarks of someone with a Narcissistic personality disorder is that when they make a mistake, it's not their fault, it's the fault of the people around them. They make pretty good door-to-door salesmen since they don't take rejection personally. After all, if you reject their offer, it's YOUR fault for being stupid enough to reject them. Not their fault for selling a crappy product.

          A Narcissist is very good at projecting confidence, regardless of whether that confidence is ba

          • Ben Carson did the same thing, saying "he saw" celebrations in New Jersey. Then when he was called out on it, he said that he said the celebrations he saw were "overseas"...

            Well, technically "New Jersey" and "overseas" are not always contradictory. /s

      • by Anonymous Coward

        He hasn't admitted to lying about murder

    • by lbmouse ( 473316 )
      And I was pulling for Vice-president Nugent under Trump, but we have a new horse in the race. Hold on tight! We are going from Cat-Scratch Fever to full on Bat-Shit Crazy.
    • by gaelfx ( 1111115 )

      This practice is referred to as "drumpfing." Or at least, it should be.

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <> on Monday March 07, 2016 @12:21PM (#51653493) Journal

    Can't understand why he's not as popular as Trump, Sanders, or Clinton. He's doing the same things they are!


    • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @12:24PM (#51653513) Journal

      We expect politicians to lie. Geeks, not so much (well, unless they're also vendors, but...)

      • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @12:30PM (#51653545) Journal
        He's a politician now. Not a good one, he shouldn't have admitted it.
      • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @12:30PM (#51653547) Journal

        It's John McAfee. Okay, so maybe it was believable; but if you're honestly surprised by the follow-up, you haven't been paying attention. This is a guy who posted a video on Youtube where he talked about banging underaged girls and smoked a bunch of meth.

        McAfee isn't out to defraud people; he's just out to be a loud caricature. I'm sure some day he'll say something serious in a sensational and ridiculous way; I'm equally sure he'll keep saying things that sound serious and then turn out to be just noise, because that's what he does now. He doesn't get attention because people believe him; he gets attention because he's interposed himself into a situation and drawn attention to himself, and we all recognize the act. You *can* play off that act honestly, but it's not a requirement.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Can't understand why he's not as popular as Trump, Sanders, or Clinton. He's doing the same things they are!


      Do NOT put Sanders in the same category as Hillary Clinton.

      Hell, I don't agree with Trump but even he's not the untrustworthy pathological lying sack of shit that Hillary Clinton is.

      • by jcr ( 53032 )

        Do NOT put Sanders in the same category as Hillary Clinton.

        Fuck you. Bernie is a lying commie rat bastard, and if you support him, you're an idiot.


    • Bet: If Ted and Marco are honest, I'll install Windows 10.

    • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

      Can't understand why he's not as popular as Trump, Sanders, or Clinton. He's doing the same things they are!


      They're experts at selling the lie.
      McAfee is an amateur in comparison.

    • Can't understand why he's not as popular as Trump, Sanders, or Clinton. He's doing the same things they are!


      He admitted he was lying. Not only is that not the same thing as Trump Sanders or Clinton, but that's an outright assault on the character of the public office itself.

  • impossible (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    A narcissistic jerk lying for attention? What is this world coming to? Next up we'll hear that some useless Hollywood slut has publicly posted nudes to get in the headlines again!

  • Shocked (Score:5, Funny)

    by Caitlin ( 4024179 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @12:25PM (#51653523)
    I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on McAfee lied here!
  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @12:26PM (#51653529)
    And so he really can crack the iPhone's security.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 07, 2016 @12:27PM (#51653531)

    If I can't believe everything John McAfee says, there's no point in living!

    • He once said that the anti-virus software that currently bears his name is crap, so he's not wrong all the time.

  • by eyenot ( 102141 ) <> on Monday March 07, 2016 @12:30PM (#51653553) Homepage

    Now, if you were *really* going to be a genius at getting in a snarky comment to make yourself seem intelligent, you'd go back in time to the article where his now-disavowed claims were originally covered, and you'd post all about how you know it's a lie from the outset, rather than boost yourself up in hindsight.

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      Err... I actually remember the Slashdot thread. Other than some who haven't got a clue or refuse to get a clue, everyone that opined said he was full of shit. I think my dog even farted upon hearing the news. I believe that the majority even speculated that he was saying it for attention.

      So, you might be right? People might want to refer back to the original thread and point out that they were witty and just knew it was a hoax, and for attention, all along. Of course, that'd not be much better than me specu

  • by HeyBob! ( 111243 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @12:30PM (#51653563)

    Mc-Afee not MAC-A-fee

  • by idbeholda ( 2405958 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @12:32PM (#51653581) Journal
    That iPhone might be infected with the Michelangelo virus.
  • Your dog wants steak.
  • Called it []

    I thought McAfee's position was more along the lines of "Look at me! Look at me!" with the idea that he could say any old shit, get the attention he craves and then not have to deliver anything as no-one in their right mind would let him near that phone.

    Not that it was particular hard to call.

  • So his coders are shit must be why the software is so slow.

    • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

      Adobe writes the shit software, and they own the trademark. He disavowed their software a long time ago and has nothing to do with making it.

  • was "a batshitload of public attention".

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @01:05PM (#51653813)

    he's trying to bring attention to the issue, that the FBI is trying to fool everyone into thinking they cannot crack an iphone.

    “That video, on my YouTube account, it has 700,000 views. My point is to bring to the American public the problem that the FBI is trying to [fool] the American public. How am I going to do that, by just going off and saying it? No one is going to listen to that crap.

    “So I come up with something sensational,” he continued. “Now, what I did not lie about was my ability to crack the iPhone." ...

    Later in the interview, McAfee described his method, which involves “decapping” the phone’s processor and acquiring the device’s unique identifier (UID), that may allow someone to brute force the phone’s password

    he's not wrong either. a grad student explained this in a blog post from October 2014.

    Why Apple's iPhone encryption won't stop NSA (or any other intelligence agency) []
    excerpt from the post:

    If Apple did their job properly, however, the UID (device encryption key) is completely inaccessible to software and is locked up in some kind of on-die hardware security module (HSM). This means that even if Eve is able to execute arbitrary code on the device while it is locked, she must bruteforce the passcode on the device itself - a very slow and time-consuming process.

    In this case, an attacker may still be able to execute an invasive physical attack. By depackaging the SoC, etching or polishing down to the polysilicon layer, and looking at the surface of the die with an electron microscope the fuse bits can be located and read directly off the surface of the silicon.

    Since the key is physically burned into the IC, once power is removed from the phone there's no practical way for any kind of self-destruct to erase it. Although this would require a reasonably well-equipped attacker, I'm pretty confident based on my previous experience that I could do it myself, with equipment available to me at school, if I had a couple of phones to destructively analyze and a few tens of thousands of dollars to spend on lab time. This is pocket change for an intelligence agency.

    Once the UID is extracted, and the encrypted disk contents dumped from the flash chips, an offline bruteforce using GPUs, FPGAs, or ASICs could be used to recover the key in a fairly short time.

    • by Prune ( 557140 )
      This sort of attack can be defeated by sealing the IC together with a small battery in a package that acts as a physical interlock and triggers key erasure when breached. This is not hard to do, actually. For example, you can use tiny optical fibres throughout the body of the package. It would not be possible to breach and insert a bridge quickly and accurately enough to avoid making a significant disruption in the reading of a sensitive photosensor. When used in a device, a warning would be provided to the
  • It's not a lie when stated in a uber-confident drug induced stupor. McAfee is a master of this state of being. He's not a liar, just an asshole.
  • I'm confused. From the stories, he claimed to able to crack the iPhone without Apple's help. Then he said he lied about that. But then reaffirmed that his people would be able to crack the iPhone.

    What am I missing?

  • Admittedly Scar, Pennywise, or Joffrey Baratheon would better fill in the gaps in Trump's "skills", but they're all dead....and also fictional, though that distinction doesn't seem to stop the Trump train.

  • As an admitted liar, how can we possibly trust him enough to believe that he lied?
  • by l0n3s0m3phr34k ( 2613107 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @02:22PM (#51654267)
    He's in good company, as it's quite obvious the FBI is also lying about this being only "about one phone", "cyber pathogens" (whatever that is...), and has even admitted that there is probably nothing of use on the phone. They claim it's only for this one phone, but the FBI also claimed they never surveilled Martin Luther King Jr either until Congress drug it out of them almost 10 years later. This court order is only for this one phone, but there is no assurance that there won't be multiple "writs" after this, from the FBI and every other law enforcement agency in the US. The shooters made a point to destroy their personal phones; if there was anything on this phone it too would have been destroyed.

    Apple's only way out is to change their system so that what the FBI is asking for is impossible from here forward.
  • Oh I have to hang my head in mourning. It sure is a sad day.

    McAfee is now as useful and trustworthy as the product carrying his name.

  • So why does anyone even give John McAfee an interview anymore, let alone write about the bullshit he spews in those interviews? The man is an endless fountain of bullshit, and his grasp of reality seems tenuous at best these days.
  • Why isn't he running for president??? He's in the wrong line of work!
  • The guy who said he was going to break in via social engineering when the only people who know the passcode are dead was lying? Wow. Never saw that coming.

  • I think that he did think he knew how to break into an iPhone. But then after his interview, he found out that breaking into a modern mobile device is not the same as breaking into a computer back in the 80s and 90s, so he's just trying to save face.

  • Nobody believed a word of it ^_^

  • He says he simplified the method so a stupid reporter could understand some of it.

  • Why does he even get a mention on /. if everything that comes out of his mouth is suspect?
  • ... the press stopped reporting the shit said by people that have been busted lying publicly.

  • Cringeley said in his most recent blog post that he trusted McAfee to be able to do this. Seemed a bit foolish at the time ...

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