Monday, May 16, 2016

 

John McAfee tried to trick reporters into thinking he hacked WhatsApp

John McAfee, noted liar and one-time creator of anti-virus software, apparently tried to convince reporters that he hacked the encryption used on WhatsApp. To do this, he attempted to send them phones with preinstalled malware and then convince them he was reading their encrypted conversations.

In April, WhatsApp announced that it had added automatic end-to-end encryption for its billion plus users. The company touted the move as one that would help protect and secure the communications of all WhatsApp users around the world.

McAfee has a history of being shifty with the press about his alleged cybersecurity exploits. In March, for instance, during a media tour that included appearances on CNN and RT, McAfee claimed he would be able to hack into the phone of San Bernadino terrorist Syed Farook.

McAfee never proved his claims, and later admitted that he was lying in order to garner a “shitload of public attention.” And earlier this year, McAfee hedged on his terrorism-prevention ideals for America during an interview with CNN about his Libertarian candidacy for president, saying that his strategy for preventing homegrown terrorism was “difficult to explain.”

Now, it seems McAfee has tried to trick reporters again, by sending them phones pre-cooked with malware containing a keylogger, and convincing them he somehow cracked the encryption on WhatsApp. According to cybersecurity expert Dan Guido, who was contacted by a reporter trying to verify McAfee’s claims, McAfee planned to send this reporter two Samsung phones in sealed boxes.

Then, experts working for McAfee would take the phones out of the boxes in front of the reporters and McAfee would read the messages being sent on WhatsApp over a Skype call.

According to sources who spoke to media anonymously because they were not authorized by their employer to speak to the press, McAfee offered this story to at least the International Business Times and Russia Today. One additional source said he also shopped the story to Business Insider.

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