By Brian Krebs
August 18, 2008
At the end of the Black Hat hacker convention in Las Vegas a week ago
Thursday, I had a few minutes to sit down with James Finch, head of the
FBI's Cyber Division. What follows is an excerpted Q&A from that
discussion, in which Finch describes himself as a serious geek who
refuses to be spooked by organized cyber criminal gangs that target
online banking customers and other 'Netizens.
Q: I see you've got a nice MacBook Pro there. Are you a pure Mac user?
A: No, I am not. I raised my daughters on Windows machines, but my
4-year-old son, I'm raising him on a Mac. I just bought him an iMac. I
prefer flavors of Unix over Windows.
Q: Which flavors?
A: Well, I'm running SUSE, Fedora 9. I don't spend as much quality time
with these operating systems as I used to.
Q: So what does the director of the FBI's cyber crime division like to
do in his spare time?
A: Build computers, learn new operating systems. One thing this job
doesn't give me enough time to do is spend quality time with my
computers. I was a gamer before gaming was cool, playing games like
Doom, Quake, Half-Life, [Castle] Wolfenstein. I have quite a few newer
games and because of the faster video cards....the last machine I built
was a water-cooled video card as well as the processor. In the
wintertime, it's great. Keeps the processor cool, but just heats up the
room, and I haven't' even put the other video card in it to run in SLI
Q: Are you a coder, or...?
A: No, I'm not. I started out as a computer science major in college.
Back then, the required courses were Fortran, COBOL, Pascal...all the
things that don't exist anymore [laughs]. And, so any programming
experience I have is obsolete. I've bought the books to do some
self-teaching for Java, but I just haven't had the time to sit down and
start picking it up.
Q: So why do you prefer Linux?
A: I just think it's more efficient. To me, it's more powerful. You
don't need this huge powerful processor because of the efficiency
associated with the Unix operating system. I believe it's closer to how
we should be computing. But, you know, it's not to really..I don't want
to dismiss Windows, because it's serving a very useful purpose. Because
of Microsoft, you have people who wouldn't otherwise be using computers.
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