Tim Cook Tells 'TIME' A Smartphone Could Be Used To Bring Down The Power Grid

In a wide-ranging interview about Apple's fight with the FBI over encryption

Tim Cook speaks at an Apple event
Tim Cook speaks at an Apple event
The Apple CEO frequently takes to the stage to introduce new products.Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been pretty outspoken about his company's decision to resist the FBI's demands that Apple create special software to help unlock iPhones in criminal investigations —namely, the recent investigation in the San Bernardino shooting suspects. But in a lengthy exclusive interview with TIME Magazine published today, the Apple CEO goes into even more exhaustive detail about his company's stance on encryption and civil liberties. Most interesting to me was this portion of the interview in which Cook says that smartphones could be used to hack the power grid:

Think about the things that are on people’s phones. Their kids’ locations are on there. You can see scenarios that are not farfetched at all where you can take down power grids going through a smart phone. So there’s all kinds of things that as we looked at it, we think the government should be pushing for more encryption. That it’s a great thing. It’s like the sun and the air and the water. It’s a superb thing.

Cook doesn't specify exactly how this type of cyber attack could be carried out through a smartphone, but it's notable that the leader of the world's wealthiest tech company is publicly saying this is a legitimate risk. A cyber attack on Ukraine's power grid in late 2015 was reportedly carried out in part by launching a telephone denial-of-service (TDOS) attack on the utility's customer service phone banks, but that involved wired phones, not mobile ones.

That point aside, the whole interview with Cook is wide-ranging, and worth reading in full over at TIME.