Your privacy is your last refuge.
Describing the "fantastic hole in our security" that has been produced by the "rapid evolution" of portable devices "from simple telephones to real computers”, McAfee said these were now “probably more powerful than your desktop at home."
The obscurity of app developers means that users have "no concept of their moral character, of their ethics, and what weaknesses we bring into our lives by downloading their software."
McAfee continued talking about dodgy applications and referenced Bible-reading apps, which are quite popular in America. These read to users while they settle down to sleep or when the lights are off, and "almost every one of them wants access to your emails or SMS messages, to access the camera and the microphone. What does it need that access for?"
For McAfee this access is simply part of a culture of no constraints when it comes to the massive aggregation of consumer data for marketing purposes, which only provides another hole through which a hacker can attack - and as with the Adult Friend Finder compromise, a successful attack could provide enormous scope for blackmail and exploitation.
"Society cannot function if everyone knows everything about everyone else," McAfee sagely noted, explaining that if two parties have contradictory beliefs it is a natural human instinct to try and settle those differences, which leads to conflict. If those parties are unaware of their differing beliefs, however, this conflict has no room in which to take place. It is, in McAfee's view, essential for civilisation: "Privacy creates a barrier through which conflict is stifled." ®
The Register notes that McAfee said all of this with his right hand holding the microphone and his left curiously busy in his trouser pocket. We are not suggesting McAfee was juggling his genitals, but it was a bizarre sight.