John McAfee is a wild guy. In the buttoned-up world of IT security, this self-described “eccentric millionaire” sticks out like a sore thumb. Allegations of murder, drug use, paranoia, stalking, and his infamous run from Belizean police have kept the McAfee Inc. founder in the headlines as of late. If you’re a fan of the dramatics, keeping up-to-date with McAfee’s ongoing spectacle could serve as an interesting diversion for the next several years to come.
Born in England in 1946, McAfee spent most of his childhood in Salem, Virginia. After earning a degree in mathematics from Roanoke College, McAfee headed for Silicon Valley, where he worked several computer jobs over the next decade. While encountering a computer virus in the 1980s during his time at Lockheed Corporation, McAfee realized that there was an unmet need in the marketplace for antivirus programs. In the late 80s, McAfee founded McAfee Associates and wrote VirusScan, the first-ever antivirus software for computers. In 1993, McAfee took his company public, and then resigned a year later (the reason for doing so is up for debate).
In the years that followed, McAfee took on a few internet and security projects. He developed one of the first instant messaging programs (Powwow) and sat on the board for a firewall software company (Zone Labs) but remained relatively out of the limelight.
Mayhem in Belize
That changed in April of last year when Belizean police raided McAfee’s home and arrested him for unlicensed drug manufacturing and possession of an unlicensed weapon, though he was later released without charges. McAfee claims the raid was retaliation for his refusal to pay a bribe to a Belizean politician.
A short seven months later, McAfee was again the subject of Belizean police interest, this time in connection with the murder of McAfee’s neighbor. U.S. expatriate Gregory Faull was found dead with a single gunshot wound to the back of the head in November 2012. Belize’s police called McAfee a “person of interest” and wanted him for questioning. McAfee fled the Caribbean country, however, gaining much media attention for his outspokenness from a secret location, despite being on the run.
In a Wired article, contributor Joshua Davis spoke with an on-the-lam McAfee who professed his innocence, attributing the situation to a framing at the hands of Belize officials. Unfortunately for McAfee, his secret hideout was given away shortly after when a Vice reporter posted a photo of himself alongside John McAfee, captioning it “We Are With John McAfee Right Now, Suckers” but forgot to remove its accompanying geolocation metadata, allowing a Twitter user to pinpoint his location to a resort in Guatemala. Oops! Following pleas to Guatemalan officials to grant him political asylum and his faking a heart attack while in Guatemalan police custody, McAfee was deported to the United States in December 2012.
So what’s the 68-year-old Father of Antivirus Software been up to in 2013? He moved to Portland, Oregon to work on a graphic novel about his life. He released a NSFW (not safe for work) Youtube video informing viewers of how to uninstall McAfee software. And just this week, his Portland landlord was granted a temporary protective order against McAfee after accusing him of stalking. McAfee responded that the order is meaningless, as he now calls Montreal home.
As a resident of Montreal, I just might get a front row seat to whatever mayhem unfolds next in the John McAfee saga.
Photo credits: Ross William Hamilton/The Oregonian; Brian Finke/Wired; Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press