John McAfee And The “Unhackable” Crypto-Wallet Bounty

4 min read

When it comes to making headlines in the world of cryptocurrency, no one does it with as much flair as anti-virus pioneer John McAfee.  After all, it’s hard to top man who says he’ll “eat his d#ck off” on national TV if the price of Bitcoin doesn’t reach $1 million by 2020.

The tech guru recently went public with another bold statement. This time McAfee is backing the Bitfi Wallet – a hardware crypto-wallet that claims to be an “un-hackable device.” In fact, he even joined the Bitfi team this past July.

For those unfamiliar with the hardware wallet, according to their website, “the Bitfi wallet is the final and ultimate solution for storing cryptocurrencies and crypto assets. It is so remarkably simple to use that anyone who can merely send an email can now safely store and send millions of dollars without any apprehension or doubt over security. And while it is so deceptively easy to use, it contains numerous groundbreaking technological advancements in encryption technology.”

To demonstrate his confidence in this new device, McAfee took to social media with another spirited wager. Fortunately, this one doesn’t involve gnawing on genitalia.

$250,000 Bounty to Hack McAfee’s Wallet

On July 24th, the Englishman tweeted, “For all you naysayers who claim that “nothing is unhackable” & who don’t believe that my Bitfi wallet is truly the world’s first unhackable device, a $100,000 bounty goes to anyone who can hack it.” The amount of the bounty would later be increased to $250,000.

To collect the prize money, would be hackers need to show that they are able to modify the device, connect to the company’s server, and send data from the wallet. In order to be able to participate in the challenge, the purchase of $120 Bitfi wallet is required.

Has Anyone Succeeded?

While it’s unknown exactly how many folks have tried to collect the money, at least a couple of people have had some degree of success while attempting to hack the hardware wallet.

In early August, a techie out of the Netherlands who uses the twitter handle @OverSoftNL professed to have breached the Bitfi’s security. The Dutch hacker claimed to have gained root access to the device.

In a tweet dated August 1, 2018,  @OverSoftNL wrote, “Short update without going into too much detail about BitFi: We have root access, a patched firmware and can confirm the BitFi wallet still connect happily to the dashboard. There are NO checks in place to prevent that like claimed by BitFi.”

Unimpressed by the claim, McAfee responded with a tweet of his own, which read, “Hackers saying they have gained root access to the BitFi wallet. Well whoop-de-do! So what? Root access to a device with no write or modify capability. That’s as useless as a dentist license in a nuclear power plant. Can you get the money on the wallet? No. That’s what matters.”

Needless to say, @OverSoftNL did not receive $250,000.

Perhaps the most amusing story associated with the bounty involves a 15 year-old-boy named Saleem Rashid. Rashid managed to hack the wallet and play the classic video game Doom on it. That’s right –Doom –the 1993 first-person shooter game that features an unnamed space marine fending off demons with a variety of different weapons.

Repurposed for Doom!

He did manage to slay a few demons on the device, but the 15-year-old was unable to access the crypto stored in McAfee’s account.

When the Doom story broke, the anti-virus trailblazer responded to the incident on social media, once more, by tweeting, “The press claiming the BitFi wallet has been hacked. Utter nonsense. The wallet is hacked when someone gets the coins. No-one got any coins. Gaining root access in an attempt to get the coins is not a hack. It’s a failed attempt. All these alleged “hacks” did not get the coins.”

While it would have made a great ending to the story, Saleem Rashid did not collect the bounty.

At press time, according to Bitfi’s official website at least, the $250,000 is still for grabs – though whether or not the company would actually be willing to pay up is another matter.

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Learn more about why it’s essential to protect your cryptocurrency with a hardware wallet.