John McAfee tripped up by the smartphone

The case of John McAfee just gets weirder. Here's how he was tracked down in Guatemala, where he is currently seeking asylum from Belize authorities.

Antivirus pioneer John McAfee, wanted for questioning as a person of interest in the murder of his neighbor in Belize, has been on the run from authorities ever since the incident occurred. But even in hiding, McAfee hasn't exactly been quiet. Declaring his innocence, he has blogged, tweeted, and given interviews to reporters. Apparently, he's new to this "fugitive" business. He has said that he fears if he turns himself in, he will be killed. It's a lurid tale that has only become stranger as the media has dug into his rather colorful life beyond the founding of the security software company that bears his name.

For weeks his exact whereabouts were unknown, but not so any longer. The Washington Post reports that McAfee was finally run to ground, not by any law enforcement authority or intense pursuit, but by a simple smartphone mistake: a reporter from Vice magazine posted a photo of his subject online with all the metadata intact. It didn't take long for a hacker who calls himself Simple Nomad to pin down his location, courtesy of an iPhone 4S: "Latitude/longitude: 15° 39' 29.4 North, 88° 59' 31.8 West," at 12:26 p.m. Monday." Well, you can't get much more exact than that!

McAfee tried to cover his tracks with a blog post in which he claimed to have faked the iPhone data to fool police, but he came clean Tuesday morning with another post acknowledging that he was in Guatemala and soon would be meeting with a lawyer.

Oops. Perhaps, when allowing reporters to taunt your pursuers with a headline like, "We are with John McAfee right now, suckers," you should request that the Location Data is turned off on the phone.

For those who value their privacy, here are some tips and cautionary tales about smartphone security:


Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

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