BEST OF THE WEB: The anti-virus entrepreneur on the run from the law

You may have read this week that McAfee co-founder John McAfee was on the run from Belize police, wanted for murder.

On the face of it, it seems like an extraordinary story. But when you consider McAfee’s behaviour over the last several years, it becomes less surprising.

McAfee is said to have lost much of his $100 million fortune during the global financial crisis, although he denies this. What he doesn’t deny, however, is that he’s spent money on funding numerous yoga retreat ventures, and has moved to Belize where he lives in a compound and is investigating hallucinogenic drugs.

He hires his own security guards and owns plenty of guns and weapons. He’s become increasingly paranoid, doubling down on his digital security to make sure no one finds him.

And now he’s wanted for the murder of his neighbour.

And Wired journalist Joshua Davis spoke to him while he was on the run.

It’s an extraordinary story, with McAfee saying he knew nothing about the shooting of his neighbour.

Asked what he knows about the shooting, McAfee said, “Nothing — other than I heard he had been shot.” In fact, McAfee added, he’s worried that whoever shot Faull may have actually been gunning for him. “I thought maybe they were coming for me. They mistook him for me. They got the wrong house,” he said. “He’s dead. They killed him. It spooked me out.”

The dispute has something to do with the dogs on McAfee’s neighbour’s property, but the incident goes deeper than that. It reveals McAfee’s paranoia – about the police and anything else. He won’t turn himself in, he says, because the Belize police want to kill him.

Not so, the police say.

Marco Vidal, the head of Belize’s Gang Suppression Unit, says that McAfee is a “prime suspect” in Faull’s death and rejects McAfee’s assertions that the GSU is framing him. “Absolutely no truth,” Vidal says. “This guy amazes me every day. We don’t have anything personal against Mr McAfee. There is no need for us to poison dogs.”

And that only makes McAfee more adamant in his avoidance.

“Under no circumstances am I going to willingly talk to the police in this country,” he told me this afternoon.

If you’ve been following the McAfee story – and even if you haven’t – this is a must-read story about an internet entrepreneur given in to paranoia.

Why you should never use Gmail to have an affair

General David Petraeus is having a pretty bad week. The CIA director handed in his resignation last week over an affair he had with his biographer.

It’s a pretty standard move – having an affair can open you up to blackmail. But do you know how the officials involved found out about the affair?

Messages Petraeus sent through Gmail.

As this piece on Lifehacker shows, the FBI found a series of emails between the General and Paula Broadwell. But these emails weren’t actually sent to each other. Instead, the two would share an account, and then leave each other drafts of each message.

Pretty clever. Not clever enough. The IP addresses leaving the messages can be tracked.

But the crux of this piece isn’t necessarily about the affair, but tips on how you can better secure your Gmail account. Some of the best ones include knowing how to hide your IP address or use disposable email addresses.

However, the most common sense suggestion is this: keep all your private stuff offline.

Email, even when it’s encrypted or hides an IP address, can always be photographed and saved for later. If they can see it, they can copy it.

Get security-smart and have a read.

How to make sure blackouts never happen again

The fallout from hurricane Sandy was terrible, with millions of Americans left without power. It’s something most people in the western world can relate to, at one point or another.

But is there any reason for blackouts to keep occurring?

Over at The New Republic, there’s an idea put forth that if we make the electricity grid more like the internet, then we may not have to put with those pesky blackouts any longer.

Essentially, it argues, blackouts are a problem that can be solved. The answer, it seems, is something called the “microgrid”.

The basic idea is to make the electric network more like the Internet. If well implemented, a better topology would make power failures less likely, and shorter when they happen.

The key is to decentralize: to turn a regional electric network into a network of smaller, neighborhood networks, that no single points of failure, so no one substation can take down half a million homes.

Of course, there are problems in actually doing this, and it would take significant political push – but it’s certainly not impossible.

Colorado, in 2010, passed a bill requiring that 3 percent of the State’s power be generated by decentralized sources. If ever there was a time for the East to try to catch up, that would be now.


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