John McAfee Defiant After Twitter Account Hack

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Colourful former security tycoon says his Twitter account was hacked to promote lesser-known crypto-currencies

Controversial security expert John McAfee has said his Twitter account, as well as his smartphone, has been hacked.

McAfee is a former security tycoon and is now considered something of an expert in crypto-currencies and he heads up the Bitcoin mining operation MGT Capital Investments, which solves complicated mathematical problems to verify transactions in the virtual currency.

Of late, McAfee has been using Twitter for his daily “coin of the day” recommendation, and on Tuesday this week he said he would slow down his recommendations to once a week, and the next of which would be published on 1 January.

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Twitter Hack

But it seems that hackers may have had other ideas, and from Wednesday McAfee’s Twitter account began publishing recommendations of lesser-known crypto-currencies in quick succession.

These rapid fire Tweets were later deleted, and then McAfee posted that his Twitter account had been hacked.

He also said that his smartphone was hacked as well (Twitter has used two-factor authentication since 2013).

McAfee pointed out that he no control over Twitter’s security.

“Though I am a security expert, I have no control over Twitter’s security,” he tweeted. “I have haters. I am a target. People make fake accounts, fake screenshots, fake claims. I am a target for hackers who lost money and blame me. Please take responsibility for yourselves. Adults only please.”

In a reply to a comment, he also pointed out that his phone was likely compromised, but he “no f****** clue” how it happened.

Which is kind of ironic, as McAfee is currently developing the “world’s first truly private smartphone”, which will be called the ‘John McAfee Privacy Phone’.

Twitter reportedly declined to comment on the issue, but highlighted its security advice that includes information about two factor authentication.

McAfee told the BBC that he had activated the option, but added that he believed hackers had intercepted the authentication code.

“The first indication that I had been hacked was turning on my cell phone and seeing the attached image,” he reportedly said. The image shows an error message on an Android homescreen.

“I knew at that point that my phone had been compromised,” he told the BBC. “I was on a boat at the time and could not go to my carrier (AT&T) to have the issue corrected.”

“All that the hacker did was compromise my Twitter account. It could have been worse,” he said.

Colourful Life

John McAfee has certainly enjoyed a colourful and controversial life so far. He became a wanted man in 2012, after his neighbour was shot in the head in San Pedro Town on the island of Ambergris Caye.

The police in Belize said they wanted to question McAfee, but the millionaire said that he believed Faull had been killed in error, and the murderers were in fact after McAfee.

This motivated the 67-year-old to change his appearance and go on the run, accompanied by his 20-year-old girlfriend Samantha.

After hiding in Belize jungle for three weeks, McAfee crossed into neighbouring Guatemala, where he was arrested by immigration officials for entering the country illegally, and eventually deported – but to the US, not Belize.

However Belizean police did not persist in seeking McAfee’s imprisonment for murder, making him a free man.

In 2015 McAfee announced he would run in the US presidential election in 2016, but he was unsuccessful in seeking the Libertarian Party’s nomination for the US presidency.

And in July this year, he settled his legal tussle with chip giant Intel over the use of his McAfee name going forward.

The legal battle came after Intel acquired antivirus giant McAfee Associates for $7.6 billion (£6.11bn) in 2010, with the goal of building its security tech into its hardware.

John McAfee was never very happy about Intel’s ownership of his name and the firm he had created, and six years after the acquisition the two began a legal battle over the use of the McAfee name for security products.

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