John McAfee warns that China is “creating huge hacking vulnerabilities for itself” through its recent exploits in science and technology.
Though the country is currently enjoying huge benefits from technological and scientific breakthroughs, the American software pioneer admits on Tuesday that it’s amazing to see how the tech world has contributed to making life easy.
Image shows John McAfee lighting up with cash.
Notwithstanding the huge benefits, McAfee says “connecting everyday devices to the internet” is a big risk.
The use of internet for almost everything–cars, refrigerators, ovens etc.–creates a security gap, he said, adding that the loopholes can be exploited by those with adequate know-how.
The software genius reiterated that hackers have successfully gained control of devices such as safes and heating controls, to prove a point in the point.
McAfee also highlighted recent attacks suffered by world’s elite car manufacturers where computer systems installed in automobiles can be hacked. Aeroplanes aren’t impenetrable, too.
“China is taking the lead in putting intelligence into devices, from refrigerators to smart thermostats, and this is our weakest link in cyber-security,” he said in Beijing.
“I am hoping that in the short time I am here I can raise a warning flag that we have to take security of these devices even more importantly than our large computers or our smart phones,” he told a conference of internet security professionals.
“Because there are so many more of these devices, and the more that are connected, then the higher the risk of a potential hack becomes.”
McAfee, 70, was once a wanted man in Belize after police arrested and briefly detained him for questioning on the death of someone he knew. He left the country and has since been in the US where he’s getting set for a presidential race.
“Our species has never before faced a threat of this magnitude. And we have not noticed it by and large,” he said.
“You may thinking I am exaggerating, that I am an alarmist. I am friends with many of the hackers who have the capability to do enormous damage if they so chose.”
Chinese companies such as Xiaomi and others have received huge commendations for their innovations which made it possible to use internet connectivity for a variety of devices, even rice cookers. Some of these products allow users to switch them on from work or on their way home.
“Such connections create serious new weaknesses that could leave users’ networks especially vulnerable to hacking,” McAfee said.
But in a briefing with reporters, according to The Associate Press, McAfee commended Beijing’s protection of its domestic internet, which is heavily censored and blocks many foreign websites, for its seeming security against the large-scale breaches seen recently in the US.
“You may notice that last year America suffered hundreds of major hacks from all around the world,” he said, and added that he had “heard nothing” of similar hacks on China.
“Now perhaps that’s the government’s control of the press, I don’t know,” he said. “But I do know that within certain industries of China, the awareness of cyber-security threats is far greater than our awareness in America.”