John McAfee: Exemplar of the Stereotypical Angry IT Nerd

Man, McAfee sure comes across as a pompous ass in this article, no?  Maybe he wrote it when he was having a particularly bad day…or something, but clearly, the purpose of his article was to inform others of how awesome he thinks he is.

As most people are aware, there is a stereotype about angry, socially awkward men who become IT professionals because it allows them to leverage their moderate to above-average intelligence coupled with an intense force of sheer obsession against the society that has rejected them.  Merely by coming to understand basic computing concepts uncommon among the public, and then facts of local infrastructure made available only to them in their official capacities, they can lord their knowledge, utterly unremarkable but for the mystique of esotericism, over others when their assistance is desired or, worse, needed.

Fortunately, the majority of IT professionals I have met are genuinely not like that.  But, I doubt any IT professional can deny that he or she has ever known those who are.  If somehow there really were any question about where this stereotype gets its start, I present to you John McAfee.

He nails it all, starting strong by dramatically overblowing his conjecture and asserting “Yes, it’s true,” as though readers were just dashing to his article after hearing the massive buzz rumors of his wisdom had generated.  He throws in a telling definition of “hacker” which he’s crafted to make the title sound as cool as he can (high tech cybertools!) while really being little more than a vehicle for the import of an assumption about the essential relationship between being a hacker and “social engineering.”   This explains the ulterior motive behind his later hilarious claims about social engineering (i.e. “lying”).

But before he gets to that, he throws in a little reference to his privileged access to the mystical knowledge of IT wizardry:

I gleaned this information from reliable sources within the Dark Web – which have yet to fail me.

Sigh.  Yes, ok, your esoteric connections form the foundation for your great clairvoyance.  But that’s just a bonus point along the way to what is surely the next step in the stereotypical angry nerd speech pattern: denigrating others by passive-aggressively stating that his conclusions are merely the product of such rudimentary reasoning that anyone who has not yet arrived at them on his or her own is a total moron.

Speaking of his claim that the purported group of hackers isn’t really a group at all, but a single person, he writes:

Any adept social engineer would have easily seen this  from the wording in the first manifesto published by the alleged hacking group.

Nailed it!  But, why are you, in particular, so darn good at this, John?

I was one of the first practitioners of social engineering as a hacking technique and today it is my only tool of use, aside from a smartphone – in a purely white hat sort of way.

That is just beautiful.  It’s got to be my favorite part of the article.  If we just swap out the term “social engineering” for its definition, we get:

I was one of the first practitioners of lying to gain access to computers as a hacking technique and today it is my only tool of use, aside from a smartphone…

Ok, John, that’s a hilariously stupid thing to say, (and I guess it means you’re not a hacker, since you don’t use those ubercybertools?) but how can I verify that there really is this obvious piece of information in the hackers’ words that I am missing?  Maybe you could somehow reinforce that notion that this is simply the product of a mere commoner’s capacity for ratiocination?

But if you don’t trust me, then ask any reasonably competent social engineer.

Ah, thank you, yes.  Way to build in the notion that any “social engineer” (liar) who disagrees with you must be incompetent.

So blah blah…talk about how cool he is with his strict conditions regarding the super secret information he’s generated with his supercomputer, blah blah…

How did I come to this conclusion?

Finally!  Yes, John, tell us of your secret ways that we plebeians may learn and prosper!

Very simply. I have spent my entire career in the analysis of cybersecurity breaches

…Well that doesn’t sound simple, but I guess if a jackass like you can do it, it must be, eh?

and can recognise an inside job 100% of the time if given sufficient data – and 40GB is more than sufficient.

So…the sufficiency of the data needed to recognize an inside job is determined purely by its quantity?  Also, is this clause related in any significant way to the clause preceding the conjunction, or is it just totally unrelated beyond being allegedly true?  ‘Cause if the former, then again, it doesn’t sound like it could’ve been that simple, and if the latter, I don’t know why you told me the former…unless it was just another thing about how awesome you think you are…

I have also practiced social engineering since the word was first invented

Again, swapping in a definition and an antecedent (despite the fact that “social engineering” is a term, and not a word – I’ll let that go),

I have also practiced lying to gain access to computers since the term “social engineering” was first invented.

Yes, again, that’s hilarious, but-

and I can very quickly identify gender if given enough emotionally charged words from an individual.

Again, you keep throwing these independent clauses together without apparent relation beyond a somewhat unbelievable allegation of truth… but wow, that’s amazing!  I don’t know where you got that spectacular power, but let’s hear about it!

How did I discover that it was an inside job?

Oh, you tease, still no evidence or arguments…  In fact, up until now…this whole thing has been about…how cool you think you are…

From the data that was released, it was clear that the perpetrator had intimate knowledge of the technology stack of the company (all the programs being used).

…why?

For example, the data contains actual MySQL database dumps. This is not just someone copying a table and making into a .csv file. Hackers rarely have full knowledge of the technology stack of a target.

The culprit is capable of creating a MySQL database dump.  Holy shit.  He’s right; this wasn’t just your average Excel user.  Only an insider could’ve been ready to execute basic MySQL commands.  Verily, no hacker could have such full and intimate knowledge.

Blah blah…rough generalizations presented as universal law…blah blah…reiterating the strongest point he has, which is that the stolen data sets do seem unlikely to be easily acquired together…but sadly unable to avoid descending back into angry nerddom and drawing conclusions with an aggressively irrational degree of certainty…aaaand

Any reasonable cybersecurity expert would come to the conclusion that only someone on the inside, who could easily gain all of the files through deception and guile, could have done the job.

Seriously, again, this is just such low level reasoning he’s performing, utterly available to the simplest of simpletons, it’s baffling how we, the audience, could have failed to recognize that which sits so plainly before our eyes.  Apparently it is obvious that there is absolutely no other possible explanation for what has happened here.

If we include the fact that the perpetrator’s two manifestos clearly state a strong personal dislike of the VP of Information Technology (whom the perpetrator referenced as having made specific comments in the past) and the CEO, and specifically names employees that are liked and are doing a good job, then it seems, without a shadow of doubt, to be an open and shut case.

The man simply can’t make a somewhat decent point without becoming irrationally overcommitted to it.

As to gender of the perpetrator, there were a number of telling signs in the manifestos.

Oh God, I dread to think what psychological insights he thinks he has…

The most telling was a statement calling men “scumbags” (for those readers that don’t speak American/Canadian English, this is a word that only a woman would ever use to describe men).

…My guess is that he’s relying on personal anecdotal evidence here.

In a separate section, the perpetrator describes men as cheating dirtbags. I think in any language this would suggest that a woman is speaking.

…What does that even mean?  In any language, this English phrase would imply a female speaker?  What?  Is it the focus on cheating?  Only women are concerned with cheating?  Or, perhaps again based on personal anecdotal evidence, he has concluded that the concept of a “dirtbag,” in any language, is only related to men by women?

If that fails to convince you, then this must

Honestly dude, I don’t think you’re really batting very high in that category, so you might want to dial it down a notch…

In the first manifesto two names of male members were released. In describing one of them the perpetrator states the he “spitefully” joined Ashley Madison the day after Valentine’s Day.

…?

Anyone who ever had a significant other knows that women rate Valentine’s Day higher than Christmas, and men think so little of it that they have to remind each other the day is nearing.

Dude, just stop talking.  This is humiliating for you.

To call an act the day after Valentines Day “spiteful”, is a thought that would enter few men’s minds.

I am speechless.

If this does not convince you then you need to get out of the house more often.

I do not want to leave my home at the frequency required to convince me that only a few men would consider it spiteful for some asshole to join Ashley Madison the day after Valentine’s Day.

Good lord, that was outrageously stupid.  It’ll be a shame if he’s right in spite of his unbelievably terrible arguments’ utter incapacity to produce the certainty he’s waving about in everyone’s face.  But right or not, and completely undeniably if not, he’s definitely ensured that he looks like the biggest asshole possible.

But I suppose we should defer to his judgment since he was the first person to lie in order to obtain access to information technology.

And that is my little case study of the stereotypical angry IT nerd.  I got out of bed to write it at 1:00 AM.  I convinced myself I could write this in spite of my commitment to avoiding the moronic rip tides of the Interwebs because it’s related to…hiring problems in IT…created by big-name worship of undeserving people…who have a lot of money…or something.

I am not proud.

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