When John McAfee told the world how to crack any phone

You are currently viewing When John McAfee told the world how to crack any phone
When John McAfee told the world how to crack any phone

When John McAfee told the world how to crack any phone


In 2016, cybersecurity expert and founder of the McAfee antivirus software, John McAfee, made headlines when he claimed that he could crack any smartphone, including the iPhone. This bold statement came in the wake of the high-profile legal battle between Apple and the FBI, where the latter sought to unlock the iPhone of a terrorist involved in the San Bernardino attack. In this article, we will explore McAfee’s claims, the techniques he proposed, and the implications of his statements on the world of cybersecurity.

Background: When John McAfee told the world how to crack any phone

In December 2015, a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, left 14 people dead and 22 injured. The attackers, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, were killed in a shootout with the police. During the investigation, the FBI recovered an iPhone 5C belonging to Farook, which they believed contained crucial information about the attack and potential links to terrorist organizations.

However, the iPhone was locked with a passcode, and the FBI was unable to access its contents. Apple’s security features, including encryption and a feature that erases the device’s data after ten failed passcode attempts, made it nearly impossible for the FBI to crack the phone without assistance. The FBI requested Apple’s help in unlocking the device, but Apple refused, citing concerns over user privacy and the potential for creating a “backdoor” that could be exploited by hackers and governments.

The case sparked a heated debate over the balance between national security and individual privacy, with many tech companies and privacy advocates siding with Apple. Amidst this controversy, John McAfee stepped forward with a bold claim: he could crack the iPhone in question, and any other smartphone, for that matter.

John McAfee’s Claims and Proposed Techniques

In an op-ed published in Business Insider, McAfee claimed that he and his team could unlock the iPhone in question within three weeks, using a technique called “social engineering.” He argued that this method would not require Apple to create a backdoor, thus preserving user privacy and security.

According to McAfee, social engineering involves manipulating people into divulging confidential information or performing actions that compromise security. In the context of cracking a smartphone, this could involve tricking the device’s owner into revealing their passcode or gaining physical access to the device to install malware or bypass security features.

McAfee also suggested that hardware-based techniques could be used to crack smartphones. One such method involves “de-capping” the device’s processor to expose its internal components, then using specialized equipment to read the encryption keys stored within. This process is highly complex and requires a deep understanding of the device’s hardware and software architecture.

When John McAfee told the world how to crack any phone

Feasibility and Implications of McAfee’s Claims

While McAfee’s claims were met with skepticism by many in the cybersecurity community, some experts acknowledged that his proposed techniques could potentially be successful in cracking a smartphone. However, these methods come with significant risks and challenges.

  • Social engineering: This approach relies heavily on human factors and can be unpredictable. It may not be effective against individuals who are highly security-conscious or have received training in recognizing and resisting social engineering tactics.
  • Hardware-based techniques: These methods require specialized equipment, expertise, and a significant amount of time. Additionally, they may cause irreversible damage to the device, rendering it unusable and potentially destroying valuable data.

Furthermore, the use of these techniques raises ethical and legal concerns. Social engineering often involves deception and manipulation, which may be considered unethical or even illegal in some cases. Hardware-based techniques, on the other hand, may violate the device owner’s property rights and could potentially be considered an invasion of privacy.

McAfee’s claims also highlight the ongoing debate over encryption and the balance between security and privacy. While strong encryption is essential for protecting sensitive data and communications from hackers and other malicious actors, it can also hinder law enforcement and intelligence agencies in their efforts to combat terrorism and other threats to national security.


John McAfee’s bold claims about cracking any smartphone brought attention to the complex and controversial world of cybersecurity, encryption, and privacy. While his proposed techniques may have some merit, they also come with significant risks, challenges, and ethical concerns. Ultimately, the debate over the balance between security and privacy is likely to continue as technology advances and new threats emerge. As individuals and organizations increasingly rely on smartphones and other connected devices, it is crucial to stay informed about the latest developments in cybersecurity and take steps to protect our data and privacy.