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Q&A With FBI's Cyber Division Chief

Q&A With FBI's Cyber Division Chief
Q&A With FBI's Cyber Division Chief 

By Brian Krebs 
Security Fix
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experience I have is obsolete.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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