There’s an old saying in English about being “hoist by your own petard.” It actually comes from Shakespeare’s ”Hamlet” and basically means to fall into your own trap. It seems to appropriately apply to John McAfee this week, who claimed his crypto wallet was “unhackable”, until of course it got hacked.
McAfee is known for making big claims, and perhaps even ‘big’ is a bit of an understatement — he tends towards the supersized, so when he said that the Bitfi crypto wallet couldn’t be hacked he naturally attracted a lot of interest. First, from customers who were looking for a safe place to keep their crypto, and also from computer experts who saw his statement as a challenge. That’s not a surprise, is it?
Less than two months later, a number of people have emerged claiming to have cracked the ‘unhackable’ wallet, with the latest being a group of researchers who were able to send signed transactions with the device. Furthermore, a 15-year-old security expert reportedly hacked the wallet and played Doom on it.
As The Merkle reports, McAfee was so confident about Bitfi that he offered a $100,000 bounty — later raised to $250,000 — for any hacker who could prove him wrong. Naturally, the hackers accepted the challenge.
The Next Web announced that researchers had hacked the wallet and the group began by gaining root access to the wallet about two weeks ago. McAfee dismissed their claims on Twitter, saying it was as “useless as a dentist license on a nuclear power plant.” It’s a strange simile, but that’s the territory McAfee operates in.
The team were undeterred by McAfee’s dismissal of their claims and tracked the data being sent from the device for close to two weeks, intercepting it periodically to display silly messages on the screen. They did this to prove that the wallet was connected to the Bitfi servers and that it functioned fully despite the significant modification. They also managed to send sensitive data such as private keys to a private server and believe that thay have fulfilled all the terms to be awarded McAfee’s reward.
They, and we, are waiting to see if McAfee pays up.