Skip to main content

McAfee has an interesting theory about the Ashley Madison hack

john mcafee says the ashley madison hack was an inside job c2sv
John McAfee may no longer be associated with the famous security company he founded, but he still writes about and consults on the topic, and he now claims to know the Ashley Madison “hack” was, in fact, data stolen by a “lone female who worked for Avid Life Media.”

His argument relies on two separate bits of evidence. First, McAfee says the files found in the leaked database contain some peculiarities that he wouldn’t expect a hacker to normally access. “The data contains actual MySQL database dumps,” he says, adding “this is not just someone copying a table and making [it] into a .csv file.”

In addition, the hack contains a lot of insider information. This includes employee stock options, the layout of the Ashley Madison offices, and the source code of every program ever written by the company’s employees. Further, McAfee says statements made by the alleged hackers seem to be hostile towards certain employees, like the company’s VP of Information Technology, and favorable towards others.

And how does McAfee knows the leaker is a woman? It’s all about the insults the hacker has levied. “The more telling was a statement calling men ‘scumbags’” says McAfee. “I think in any language this would suggest that a woman is speaking.” In addition to that, he notes the hacker’s first manifesto uses the term “spiteful” in reference to joining Ashley Madison after Valentine’s Day. According to McAfee, men have trouble even remembering Valentine’s Day exists, so the attacker must be a woman.

Serious legal issues continue to hound McAfee. Belize authorities sought him as a person of interest in a 2012 murder case, causing him to flee to Guatemala, where he was then deported to the United States. In early August, 2015, he was arrested in Tennessee on DUI charges and possession of a firearm while intoxicated.

McAfee has a great deal of experience in the security world, so his opinions cannot be easily dismissed. His theory about the type of files stolen, and the manner in which they were stolen, are likely worth closer examination. As such, it seems McAfee’s claims are best filed as plausible, but far from proven. All the evidence is circumstantial or grounded on broad generalizations. Personally, I’ll wait until more evidence makes these same connections before I entertain that they may be true.

Editors' Recommendations

Matthew S. Smith
Matthew S. Smith is the former Lead Editor, Reviews at Digital Trends. He previously guided the Products Team, which dives…
John McAfee’s ‘hack-proof’ phone secures the hardware — but what about the software?
john mcafee hack proof phone

Digital security is a serious concern these days, and it seems like every week we hear of another vulnerability available to hackers who might want to gain access to your phone. Well folks, John McAfee thinks he has the solution, and has finally unveiled the plans for the "most hack-proof phone" ever.

The device is called the McAfee Privacy Phone, and it comes at a cost of $1,100. It was created in partnership with cybersecurity firm MGT and boasts a physical switch that allows the user to disconnect the battery, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antennas, the camera, and the microphone.

Read more
Intel breaks out cybersecurity division McAfee as an independent company
8th gen intel core launch building 01

Intel is spinning out McAfee, the security software division it acquired in 2011, in a deal that values the company at $4.2 billion.

Intel is selling 51 percent of its stake to TPG, a private equity firm. TPG will also be investing $1.1 billion into McAfee, which will now be independent of Intel but the chipmaker will retain a 49 percent stake and get $3.1 billion in cash.

Read more
Ashley Madison finally admits to sleazy fake fembots
ashley madison real name hack

For a company that's supposed to be keeping things on the down-low for its users, infidelity network Ashley Madison revealed a few secrets of its own this week.

Nearly a year after a hack on the site leaked more than 60 gigabytes of user data, the company is speaking out to officially announce its new CEO Rob Segal, and president James Millership, three months into their new roles. A company release spoke out on past issues with the site in hopes of regaining user trust to move beyond previous missteps.

Read more