Security Pioneer John McAfee Adds Blockchain Experts to Advisory Board

Michael del Castillo
Jun 14, 2016 at 22:09 UTC
Updated Jun 15, 2016 at 15:26 UTC
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Security pioneer John McAffee has added two bitcoin pioneers to his new company’s advisory board as part of a broader effort to make digital currency businesses more secure.

A part of the strategy for MGT Capital Investments, McAffee yesterday launched the Cryptosecurity Advisory Board, naming bitcoin angel investor Roger Ver as board chairman. Today, MGT added serial industry entrepreneur Erik Voorhees as an inaugural member of the board.

While banks and other financial institutions have been adopting blockchain technology because of its increased transparency and efficiency, McAfee said the board, and an entirely new soon-to-be launched division at the company, are aimed at making the technology more secure.

McAfee told CoinDesk:

“[Blockchain] is extremely insecure from a hacking standpoint, and that’s my specialty.”

McAfee said that he believes blockchain technology creates a more secure way to “verify transactions”, but that the recent hack of cryptocurrency exchange ShapeShift and the high-profile case of defunct bitcoin exchange Mt Gox show that businesses built on top of the technology are still vulnerable to attacks.

“I’m horrified when I see people on their smartphones with their wallet. In 10 minutes if you give me their cell phone, I could have all their money,” McAfee said.

McAfee was appointed as chairman and CEO of MGT Capital in May, causing a brief 1,000% surge in the publicly traded company’s stocks. Formerly a fantasy sports enterprise, the firm is in the process of being rebranded as John McAfee Global Technologies, Inc following McAfee’s addition to the team.

Today, the company’s stock is trading at $2.63 a share, valuing the company at $59m.

Rebuilding a new company

Given McAfee’s history with new technologies, the move has already sparked speculation in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry.

McAfee is perhaps best known as the founder of McAfee Associates in 1987, a company would come to be synonymous with online security. In 2010, Intel purchased the firm for $7.6bn.

But, as for how the new advisory board will assist in MGT’s positioning in the blockchain space, members were less clear.

Ver told CoinDesk meetings will occur at least on a quarterly basis. Voorhees says he expects to take “several calls per year” with MGT’s cryptocurrency advisory board and affiliated companies. According to Voorhees, McAfee “rightly” views cybersecurity and cyrptocurrency as “intertwined”.

He said:

“Blockchain assets change the nature of cybersecurity from protecting personal information, which is now less important, to protecting digital wealth, which is increasingly important. I’m excited to see what he’s up to and to contribute to the project.”

But, the Cyrptocurrency Advisory Board is just part of what McAfee describes as a soon-to-be launched cryptocurrency division that would sit alongside new divisions dedicated to areas in military and other forms of security.

In addition to the Cryptocurrency Advisory board, MGT on Friday announced the creation of a Hacker Advisory Board to steer technology development aimed at protecting against cyberthreats. Founding members include Chris Roberts, Bryce Case and Alexander Heid.

“I’ve identified over a dozen super high-tech products that we’ll be building into MGT over the next six months,” said McAfee.

Still, McAfee has proven eclectic in his recent project choices.

Earlier this year, he ran for the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidacy before he was appointed chairman and CEO of MGT Capital in May.

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