How software guru McAfee was located in Guatemala

(CBS News) John McAfee, who made a fortune selling McAfee computer security software, was on the run for three weeks, trying to evade police in Belize after learning they wanted to question him about the murder of his neighbor.

The high-tech entrepreneur invited reporters from VICE.com to join him on the lam. The online magazine was interested in documenting McAfee's edgy lifestyle, which in recent years has revolved around drugs, sex and guns.

To promote its exclusive access, VICE published a smartphone picture of McAfee with reporter Rocco Castoro. That was a big mistake.

Digitally embedded in the photo was the location where it was taken, and it placed McAfee in Guatemala -- just across the border from Belize. Now the world knew where John McAfee was hiding.

Joel Brenner, who until 2009 was the nation's top counterintelligence official, says the computer security guru was done in by the phone's GPS technology, which attached precise longitude and latitude coordinates to the photo.

"This is a tracking device, there's no question about it, and we're all carrying one now," Brenner says.

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When smartphone users use the tracking device to take a photo and send a photo, their information is also sent.

"And some of that data, depending on how the phone is set, is going to include the location where it was taken," says Brenner.

On his blog, McAfee called the disclosure an "accidental release ... by an unseasoned technician at VICE headquarters."

Now he's emerged in Guatemala City asking for political asylum and saying he left Belize to escape a witch-hunt.

"At that point, I decided I had to do something, went undercover, I'm now here and I'm now going to speak out, and I'm going to speak out big time," McAfee says.

McAfee, who developed the anti-virus security program that bears his name, left the company 18 years ago. Since then, he's been living on the millions he made as one of the first big software pioneers.

  • Bob Orr

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