Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Security Privacy

John McAfee's Latest Project: Shielding Against Surveillance 100

Posted by samzenpus
from the man-with-a-plan dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Now that he's finished dodging law enforcement and experimenting with chemicals, software designer John McAfee (founder of his eponymous antivirus company) has been building something that, if it actually works, could appeal to the paranoid: a device that blocks the government's ability to spy on PCs and mobile devices. The device, known as 'Dcentral,' will reportedly cost around $100 and fit into a pants pocket. In a speech at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center over the weekend, McAfee suggested that the hardware would create private device networks impenetrable to outsiders, even those with the most sophisticated technology. The network's range would be roughly three blocks; McAfee believes that he can have a prototype up and running within six months. Whether or not McAfee manages to get that prototype working on schedule, he's already ramping up to the release of something, having set up a 'Future Tense Central' Website with a countdown clock, a sleek logo, and a set of social-media buttons. McAfee is such an outsized figure ('I've always wandered close to the edge,' he once confessed to an audience) that it's sometimes tempting to take his latest claims with a moon-sized grain of salt—this is the same man, after all, who says he avoided a police manhunt in Belize by dressing up as a drunk German tourist. (And he's unafraid to parody his own Wild Man reputation online.) That aside, he's also an executive with a record of starting a financially successful company, which means that—no matter what else he's done in the intervening years—it's likely that he'll attract a little bit of attention, if not some funding, with his latest endeavor."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

John McAfee's Latest Project: Shielding Against Surveillance

Comments Filter:
  • by neminem (561346) <neminem AT gmail DOT com> on Monday September 30, 2013 @11:47AM (#44993355) Homepage

    That is a really boring and unhelpful name for it.

    I'll be really sad if the actual name of the device isn't "Fakeblock".

  • Is it this? (Score:5, Informative)

    by stewsters (1406737) on Monday September 30, 2013 @11:47AM (#44993361)
    Onion Pi [adafruit.com]
    • by Anonymous Coward

      If so it is cute to think that this is enough to stop the NSA from spying on you. The exit nodes from TOR are well-known by design. And the traffic is not encrypted whenever it leaves an exit node. And the things they are most interested in, such as your g-mail and such they already have access to.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If so it is cute to think that this is enough to stop the NSA from spying on you. The exit nodes from TOR are well-known by design. And the traffic is not encrypted whenever it leaves an exit node. And the things they are most interested in, such as your g-mail and such they already have access to.

        Since you're repeating what we all already know, I can tell you've missed the point. These devices aren't to stop the NSA from spying on just you, they're to stop the NSA from spying on everyone. As more people log on to the Tor network and more websites offer a hidden service, automated mass surveillance becomes much more difficult. An advanced persistent threat can break through pretty much any n00b's best efforts, but they can't focus that much time on all of us.

  • Moo (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chacham (981) * on Monday September 30, 2013 @11:49AM (#44993373) Homepage Journal

    Early testers have noted they "feel quite anonymous and undetectable" wearing the tinfoil hat, with no less than three extra layers of tinfoil to keep the NSA out.

    For an extra $50, users can get a banner reading "Don't mind me, I'm anonymous." attached at no extra cost.

    • Re:Moo (Score:5, Insightful)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday September 30, 2013 @03:06PM (#44995353)

      Early testers have noted they "feel quite anonymous and undetectable" wearing the tinfoil hat, with no less than three extra layers of tinfoil to keep the NSA out.

      Not nearly as amusing as the truth though; He became a successful CEO by starting a business whose product slogan is basically "Hey, that's a nice computer you got there; shame if something were to happen to it." After retiring, he was accused of murder, and then dressed up as a drunk tourist to elude and mock them, while insisting on his innocence. Recently, he has claimed that his brush with the keystone cops has granted him insight into the ubiquous surveillance present in our society, and for a small fee, can make you invisible to it.

      There's very little left to this man except an ego, a thick wad of cash, and a seemingly limitless potential to exploit human stupidity as a fuel source for the aforementioned ego.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    i think its called "Fake block"

  • "suggested that the hardware would create private device networks impenetrable to outsiders, even those with the most sophisticated technology" For the first '2' hours after its released.
    • by sjames (1099) on Monday September 30, 2013 @12:04PM (#44993577) Homepage

      If I didn't know about his habit of shoving bath salts up his poop chute, I might ask what is he smoking.

      • by lgw (121541) on Monday September 30, 2013 @12:14PM (#44993687) Journal

        Private mesh networks are harder to surveil in their entirety than the current internet. Could the NSA put nodes across the country to get back to intercepting all traffic? Sure. But they'd have to do that - to be even more obvious about ubiquitous surveillance. If that sort of thing has become politically acceptable, then all hope is indeed lost. But there's at least a chance it would be a bridge too far.

        OTOH, let's see him actually deliver. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean you can stop those who are out to get you.

        • by sjames (1099)

          Yes, mesh networks are harder to penetrate but I wouldn't call them impenetrable by a long shot.

          • by lgw (121541)

            Well, something like TOR/Freenet on top of one is a neat idea. Those technologies have difficult problems with attackers who observe all nodes. Surveilling most traffic on a mesh network isn't all that hard, as most of it will need to reach commercial sites at some point, or otherwise take many hops, but surveilling most nodes would take serious work. But, again, far easier to talk about than to do (and get right), and of course there are other attacks against TOR et al.

            If you see the problem as "can we

      • by sl4shd0rk (755837)

        shoving bath salts up his poop chute

        That's a misnomer for methylenedioxypyrovalerone [wikipedia.org]. I'm not saying McAfee isn't a bit off-kilter, but framing the statement as you did needs an explanation. Oh, and and some people do indeed smoke it.

      • Be fair, his plan sounds really good if you're high enough.
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      We know the file systems via the big US brands is junk.
      We know the operating systems via the big US brands is junk.
      We know networking connections via the big US brands is junk.
      We know the cryptography offered via the big US brands is junk.
      NSL covers any internal developer or code 'changes' via the big US brands.
      All you can do is air gap, get a file system that most spyware wont run on and re think any crypto use.
      A unique filesystem and OS just for you would help a tiny bit more in some ways than more
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Monday September 30, 2013 @11:51AM (#44993393) Homepage Journal
    This isn't news. You can already do this by buying the kit from adafruit.com [adafruit.com] or by buying one already built at PAPARouter.com [paparouter.com](It's in the .sig). In short, Raspberry Pi + Debian + Tor. If you're browsing, make sure to use https everywhere [eff.org].

    He must be really tired from trying to stay relevant.
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Since we know the three letter agencies are running tor exit nodes, is this really helping all that much?

    • I'm sorry to inform you that the Tor network is absolutely riddled with US government-owned computers sharing packet information. If you want privacy you'll have to migrate to Freenet.
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      He must be really tired from trying to stay relevant.

      Probably more like stoned out of his mind. I wonder how slow this tech will make your computer?

      That line in TFS, "experimenting with chemicals"... I did that as a kid. When I almost burned the house down my dad took away my chemistry set. Someone needs to turn in their nerd license. Call a spade a spade, it isn't "experimenting with chemicals" it's "abusing drugs." An eight year old making gunpowder is experimenting with chemicals.

      McAffee is a loon. Does

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        Why do we assume that the NSA or any other Government TLA employs the best brains in the industry. If you work for the government, you get a reasonable but not very exciting living wage. Work in the private sector and you get the chance to make millions on stock options when your invention is successful. How often does the government manage to make anything that is even fit for purpose, never mind better than everything else out there.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          How often does the government manage to make anything that is even fit for purpose, never mind better than everything else out there.

          Weapons, every time they make a new one, and they spend lavishly. Snowden was pulling in $200k a year, that's serious money.

          • More specifically, they have a huge and unaccountable budget, meaning they can afford to spend lavishly on recruiting and personnel costs. Money isn't everything, but give a man a little power along with it and you have 90% of what people strive for on a personal level for their whole lives, and money can also buy a lot of power...
    • Insanely you have to send your email address to JohnMcAfee(tm) in clear text to register for further updates. I'm sure no one will be listening to that end point.

    • by Burz (138833)

      I2P uses 2048bit encryption [geti2p.net] and every user defaults to being a relay, making it much harder to attack than Tor (which has a security model that's piecemeal). It also has a decentralized email service based on DHT and supports large P2P file transfers. If the people you're communicating with are willing to run it, I2P is definitely a better choice.

      • by Burz (138833)

        I2P uses 2048bit encryption [geti2p.net] and every user defaults to being a relay, making it much harder to attack than Tor (which has a security model that's piecemeal). It also has a decentralized email service based on DHT and supports large P2P file transfers. If the people you're communicating with are willing to run it, I2P is definitely a better choice.

        I should also note that I2P runs on Android devices so it can also be quite portable (although you would want to strongly prefer Wifi connections over cellular).

    • by LoRdTAW (99712) on Monday September 30, 2013 @12:52PM (#44994057)

      McAfee is talking about creating an encrypted, personal, portable mesh network device. The devices you linked are nothing more than TOR exit nodes which aren't as secure as most would like.

      The idea behind a mesh network is there is no single point of control for the network, its literally a hodgepodge of nodes interacting with each other. So no ISP or internet connection needed, it is a separate network. If one node goes out the rest keep on talking to each other, you may lose contact with some clients though. Of course you won't be browsing the web with this device. Its main use would be for people in a meeting or conference who wish to share information without it going over any public networks. Sounds trivial but a plug and play solution isn't really available off the shelf unless you are talking about ad-hoc wifi which suffers from poor performance as the number of clients increases. I am sure it uses more modern wireless tech and has routing built in to balance the network traffic between nodes.

  • by marcosdumay (620877) <marcosdumay&gmail,com> on Monday September 30, 2013 @11:55AM (#44993463) Homepage Journal

    Well, going from anti-virus to full blown snake oil is not a complete change of direction.

  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Monday September 30, 2013 @11:58AM (#44993497) Homepage Journal
    EFF.org has a great page about why https is so important to use with Tor [eff.org]. Also don't use Windows......ever
    • Well, you can use windows to false-flag yourself as a good-little-citizen.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Also don't use Windows......ever

      That's kind of hard to do at work. And if the NSA wants to pwn my Linux box I'm sure they can.

    • EFF.org has a great page about why https is so important to use with Tor [eff.org]. Also don't use Windows......ever

      So if I'm concerned about security, I should switch over to an OS that I know even less about, and will probably blindly follow guides on the internet about how to configure it and get it working for what I want.

      ie: Telling people to not use Windows.... ever, doesn't really tell us the reasons why we should never use windows, and anyone blindly following such advice is likely running something unsecure or setup incorrectly.

      • So if I'm concerned about security, I should switch over to an OS that I know even less about, and will probably blindly follow guides on the internet about how to configure it and get it working for what I want.

        That's a good way to start. Obviously when learning a new OS, you won't be an expert right away.
        I'm not convinced that a lack of complete mastery in a subject is a good reason to avoid gaining any experience whatsoever.

        Telling people to not use Windows.... ever, doesn't really tell us the r
  • Neither of the linked articles provided any information about what the device is and how it works. Given their descriptions it could be anything from an extra transport level encryption layer to, as someone mentioned, a tinfoil hat. This is a bad article and the editors should feel bad.
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      This is a bad article and the editors should feel bad.

      Don't blame the editors, stories are voted up or down by logged-in users. Nobody made you click the link, go play in the firehose if you want to affect what's posted.

      I was at work so didn't see it, but I'd have voted "funny".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This sounds a lot like the encrypted darknet described by Cory Doctorow in his book "Little Brother". It was set up by a bunch of teenagers using Free Software and it allowed them to encrypt all of their communications and hide their identities.

    The book, by the way, is freely available on his website.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Brother_%28Doctorow_novel%29

    It also sounds kind of like FreedomBox, which is a concept only slightly farther along than the fictional network from Doctorow's book: http://ww

  • by Anonymous Coward

    McAfee agrees to set up honeypot for 3-letter agencies in order to avoid investigation and possible prosecution.

  • by Scot Seese (137975) on Monday September 30, 2013 @12:11PM (#44993645)

    .. staying relevant, supporting his ex-stripper bride and not going totally broke.

    Seriously though, I love this guy. Who needs "Bering Sea Gold Dredgers", "Duck Dynasty" or "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" when Johnny Mac is out there, popping up in my news feeds like the lovably insane, Hunter S. Thompson-ish "tech Uncle" for us to slowly laugh at before going back to work?

    • Damn... didn't he have two girlfriends for a bit? Can we have them make out? I'd watch that.
      Ok, me and the other executives are on board with this project. When can you start shooting?
      We'll air it first on History after 3 hours of Ancient Aliens, and then when the season is done, on continuous loop for G4TV.
    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      supporting his ex-stripper bride

      No wonder he's in trouble. Didn't he learn never to marry them? Especially since he had something like a dozen teenaged girls acting as his "personal servants" before he went on the lam.

    • I agree with what you're saying here in relation to those reality tv shows. But out of respect to a true genius observer of culture, please refrain from comparing MacAfee to Hunter Thompson. Sure, they both abused drugs, but I wouldn't agree that MacAfee has the intellect that Thompson did in his heyday.
  • * Does not work in Belize.
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Monday September 30, 2013 @12:21PM (#44993757)

    Staying in the headlines.

  • He needs to focus on Youtube vids instead of serious tech. He's past it, even by his own admission. [youtube.com]

  • And I'm going to trust a crazy fugitive with my data why?

    He may be a person who is also interested in privacy, but I see no reason at all to trust him.

    The crazy enemy of my enemy might have some valid points, but he's still a crazy person.

    • You should trust him because he was a successful fugitive. Lots of people run for it, not many actually succeed.
      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Well, lots of people don't start out with millions of dollars they can use in that endeavor. You can grease a lot of palms in a developing country, and buy yourself some legitimacy in the right circles if you start our with huge sums of money.

        And somehow I think if he was a fugitive from the US, they'd have gone in and gotten him by now if they wanted him badly enough.

        So, I'd me more impressed if he'd done it without a huge personal fortune to make it easier, and I'm afraid my sample of other millionaires

  • by LoRdTAW (99712) on Monday September 30, 2013 @12:59PM (#44994139)

    I doubt McAfee is building anything. He has admitted that he is a crap coder and pretty much paid engineers to write his AV software when he was in charge of the company. I doubt he can even remember how to write code. Most likely he had this idea and decided to throw some money at people to build it for him and then slap his name on it.

    Though as much as I think he is a megalomaniacal attention whore, if he has the money and it can benefit people by creating a secure, isolated network then i'm all for it. Just don't tell people YOU are building it. Tell them, you are funding it.

  • The population density isn't that big, you can't build a p2p wireless internet.

  • by pedropolis (928836) on Monday September 30, 2013 @01:50PM (#44994641)

    Can I get this as a Tin Foil Cod Piece (+5 ELF Shield)? Makes a great pair with my current Tin Foil Hat. Many thanks.

  • having set up a 'Future Tense Central' Website with a countdown clock, a sleek logo, and a set of social-media buttons.

    As far as I know, governments have access to the data behind those social medias. Maybe you click on those icons and you get yourself flagged in a special list.

  • Worth a checkout if you are looking for a private digital storage/private media library/private social network solution: https://register.blib.us/ [register.blib.us] (allows fast search/sharing)
  • As any commercial entity in US he will need to hand over the keys to NSA at the first request. What's the purpose of this?

"There is nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don't know yet." -Ambrose Bierce

Working...