Antiviral software pioneer John McAfee, who has fled from Belizean law enforcement who are seeking to question him about the murder of one of his neighbors, may have accidentally revealed his own location in the metadata of a photo taken with his iPhone.
McAfee has stirred up interest in his case by blogging and talking to a reporter from Vice magazine. Vice posted a photo of McAfee with its reporter. A Twitter user subsequently noticed that there was geographical metadata on the photo that Sophos Security writer Graham Cluley concluded puts McAfee just over the border into Gutatemala.
McAfee subsequently wrote on his blog that he had “manipulated the xif data on the image taken from my cellphone.”
He said he had manipulated the photo to protect himself and his companion.
While it remains unclear where McAfee is, it’s clear that geolocation is a powerful tool which users must control if their privacy is to be protected.
“It would be ironic indeed if John McAfee, a man who was a leading light in the anti-virus industry 20-25 years ago, was undone by sloppy IT security. The lesson that all of us should learn is to be very careful about what information a photograph might be secretly carrying within it regarding the when and where a picture was taken,” Sophos’s Cluley wrote.
Update (12/4): On Tuesday, McAfee confessed on his blog that his location had in fact been inadvertently disclosed, but he blamed reporters. “Yesterday was chaotic due to the accidental release of my exact co-ordinates by an unseasoned technician at Vice headquarters,” McAfee wrote.