“John McAfee, a former programmer for NASA and the during the 70s and creator of the first anti-virus, entered packed Blockchain Money Conference room to rousing applause.”
Here’s a quote from John McAfee, “Information only has value based on who wants to buy the information and its contents. Bitcoin is the information; the value of information is the information itself.”
So John is a security expert, right? So that’s the lens through which he sees the world. The point he began within his speech was for Bitcoin, a hacker, you might steal a bunch of information but you’d have to find a buyer for that information in order to make some money. And the example he gave was, “say you stole the blueprints for a new Stealth Fighter from the United States government, you’d have a very limited number of buyers for that information in order for you to turn that into cash you could spend.”
He then pointed out that Bitcoin is essential information and so a Bitcoin is essentially a piece of information and the reason that makes a difference is Bitcoin is the value. So hackers could steal the actual value and spend it – which is kind of a first, which is why he emphasized that very point.
This is something he said in the speech:
“There are 100 million phones that have spyware or a keylogger on them he continued and hackers are monitoring these phones. On their systems, they have criteria laid down that says, “notify me if someone downloads one these 20 wallets.” So specifically how he explained this working was, so first the hacker would have to get the spyware on the phone, which is simply a case of running a script in the background when a page loads on a porn site. So then the spyware, what’s it’s in there would wait for you to open or download one of the cryptocurrency wallets it knows about which that hacker has listed.
When it’s done that, it starts taking screenshots of what’s on your phone’s screen in an attempt to get a picture of your private key and then send it back to the attacker. Now it doesn’t have to do this randomly either, if the attacker studied the way the app works, typically there’s a standardized process that happens when you first install a new mobile wallet. Let’s say for example it asks you to like set up a password, or write down your password key or backup a recovery phrase or whatever.
John asked a question to the crowd, “what happens if the attacker gets your private key?” Well, you just take all of the money out. It’s just like having ownership of those funds, so does it matter how secure the actual software is, it doesn’t matter how it’s written – all of that goes out of the window if I leave my private key laying on the table.
There’s nothing that the developers of any of the largest wallet holders can do to secure my funds if I surrender the private key. That was the key point that John was making.
He says, “There will come one day when everyone’s wallet is emptied.” McAfee said to this gripped packed room. There will never be a software wallet that is completely secure, not as long as you are using mobile wallets because they are designed to spy on you. Not to provide security. Hardware wallets are the only way.
So John gives us these great insights into how hackers think, and many of these hackers are very calculated more than opportunistic. Once they breach a system, they don’t necessarily do anything immediately. They patiently prepare their hack. In this case, the preparation would be building a base of a hundred million phones that have Bitcoin wallets on them, but the funds are still in there. So what the hacker would do is, stealing all of the coins at once means there would be no time for the hackers to get wind of it, and then to take precautions. You don’t know about it until it’s too late. So that’s why it’s beneficial to take it all at once.
And then he pointed out, that when you think about it fundamentally, smartphones were designed to allow you to capture every kind of information about you and then send that information across the internet like your location for GPS and satellite navigation, your health information like these health monitoring apps, pictures, videos, emails this is exactly what a smartphone is designed to do.
So what was designed to secure Bitcoins? Hardware wallets. They are designed to perform a single function of securing your Bitcoins or other coins and only let some out when you authorize each individual transaction.
That’s why John McAfee in his speech says, “hardware wallets are really the only way.”
So John has this Bitcoin mining operation, I think he said it was in North Carolina. Right next to a hydroelectric power plant. They have created a completely custom software and computer system to run their operation and of course, that’s all based on Johns knowledge as a security expert.
He says when people bring him new ideas, he says he’s not looking at the business case, his mind automatically goes, “I can get in here, I can get in here, I can get in here,” because if a system is not secure than it is doomed. Isn’t it?
I wondered if he’s moving towards greater involvement in Bitcoin and becoming a part of the community. “McAfee’s attendance at the conference is very much yet another sign of the continuing attraction of Bitcoin. The only space where high financiers, Members of Parliament, pioneers in computer, the intellectually curious and the ordinary man outside who somehow made his way into the conference, intermingle in a rich and passionate pastiche that aims to bring cutting-edge technology to the failed banking system which almost clogged the world’s artery just eight years ago.”
Someone raised their hand and asked if John will continue to invest in Bitcoin, he replied with “I’m already involved, we’ve invested $1 million within the space with CoinJolt already.” he elaborated.