Has Bitfi - John McAfee's Unhackable Wallet - Really Been Hacked? - Bitsonline

Has Bitfi — John McAfee’s Unhackable Wallet — Really Been Hacked?

Bitfi, the John McAfee-backed “unhackable wallet” has reportedly been compromised. Bitfi appears reluctant to honor the $250,000 USD bounty it promised the IT security community to hack the wallet. A war of words has predictably erupted on Twitter.

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Bitfi, the World’s First Unhackable Wallet?

Bitfi was launched amid much fanfare in late June and was sold out within minutes of being released. John McAfee — IT security pioneer and provocative crypto identity — spoke glowingly of the multi-currency wallet:

McAfee was so confident of the wallet’s claims of “optimized utility, fortress-like security, and absolute ease of use” that he offered a $100,000 bounty for anyone who could hack it. That bounty was later increased to a quarter-of-a-million-dollars.

Claims of unhackability were bound to arouse the interest of the crypto community given McAfee’s oft-repeated declarations that “There is nothing that is unhackable”.

Root Access to Bitfi Gained

Thanking @spudowiar, the teenager who identified vulnerabilities in the popular Ledger hardware wallet, @OverSoftNL claims to have gained root access to the Bitfi wallet on August 1st:

McAfee Goes on the Offensive

John McAfee responded to the apparent security flaw by offering a definition of hacking in a rather twitchy video tweet:

In the video post, while not directly denying OverSoft’s claims, McAfee argues that Bitfi — being a wallet — is not hacked unless the money in it can be stolen. Per McAfee:

“You have a wallet. It has money in it. I want to hack that and get your money. That’s what hacking is. You are modifying, taking, or doing something that affects the thing that you’re hacking.”

The maverick doubled down with a follow up tweet:

The widespread reporting of the “hack” has been as lacking in nuance as McAfee is in humility. Bitfi’s audacity in promoting its wallet as unhackable may be of Titanic proportions, but that doesn’t justify the sensationalist reporting that has followed the suggestions it is not quite as secure as promised — particularly when OverSoft has not requested payment of the reward.

Is McAfee Right or Simply Parsing Words?

McAfee’s argument seems logical. Unless money can be stolen from a wallet, claims that it has been hacked need to be taken with a grain of salt. But so does anything McAfee says. His awkward history of backing crypto projects is riddled with errors, to say the least.

Earlier this year he promoted the Finacoin ICO, which, as exposed by Bitsonline, was found to be an unsophisticated Nigerian scam. He also proudly supported the Bezop ICO, which accidentally left the data of over 25,000 investors exposed on the internet for 24 hours.

Even if a Bitfi wallet was not hacked, the apparent vulnerabilities that were reportedly discovered suggest that claims of its unhackability speak more to aspirationalism than indisputable fact. In the cryptocurrency space, there is a fine line between a security compromise and a hack. Differentiating between the two is splitting hairs. Of all people, McAfee should clearly be able to concede that.

Have your say. Was Bitfi’s unhackable wallet hacked or merely exposed as imperfect? And does the difference really matter in a space where security is so important?


Images via Pixabay

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