The Sony hack set America’s teeth on edge and created waves of activity, from people flocking to see a movie they believed a foreign government had tried to keep from them, to hackers attacking that government in retaliation. North Korea has denied responsibility for the Sony hack, though, and now, the man behind one of the best-known anti-virus products on the market, says that he knows who really hacked Sony, and why.
John McAfee has an interesting history and reputation. CNBC notes that the man is known for a quirky sense of humor — his New Year’s resolution for 2014 included staying away from women and bath salts, and only playing jokes on journalists who can appreciate his sense of humor. This makes it hard to tell how much of an interview is serious, and how much is playing with the reporter. BBC‘s description of McAfee in 2013 as an “addict, coder, runaway” who has been called the paranoid schizophrenic wild child of Silicon Valley, only adds to the question of how seriously the man’s assertions can be taken.
Still, when it comes to internet security, there’s no doubt McAfee is an expert, and his remarks to International Business Times UK on the Sony hack bear some interest. He said that North Korea wasn’t behind the hack — instead, it was carried out by those who have a problem with Sony for the restrictions the music and movie industry have placed on “content of art.”
McAfee also said that he supports the ideology behind the Sony hack, if not all the actions of the hackers.
However, it’s not the first time that McAfee has hinted that he knew the background of the Sony hack. He also shared a video on his website in December, that indicated the U.S. government could be behind the hack.
This video discusses internet security regulations, and suggests that the U.S. government could have carried out the Sony hack in order to get the public on board with cybersecurity laws that had previously stalled when government officials pushed for them. It also suggests the possibility of a disgruntled Sony employee.
McAfee doesn’t say, in his interview with IB Times, what might have made him move from the idea of the government hacking Sony in order to excuse passing tighter internet regulations, to the idea of hackers who want more freedom in movies and music. For that matter, it’s fair to recognize that sharing the video — which he did without context or comment — doesn’t necessarily mean that McAfee agrees with the content. Perhaps he only intended to demonstrate that other options existed, besides the Sony hack being carried out under orders from the North Korean government.
Is there anything to his assertions? The notion that the hack was performed by a person with inside knowledge of Sony’s systems has been floated before. The New York Post reported in December that, while the FBI continued to hold North Korea responsible for the hack, top cybersecurity experts said otherwise, pointing to at least one insider.
Though McAfee says he knows who carried out the Sony hack, he says he won’t reveal them: “That would make me a narc.”