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In case you've been wondering whatever happened to John McAfee, the cybersecurity pioneer with a checkered past including allegations of murder, he has been living in the small town of Lexington, Tennessee. He's also been running a cybersecurity firm called Future Tense Central.
And he just got in trouble with the law. Again.
Last Sunday McAfee was arrested by the Tennessee Highway Patrol for DUI and possession of a handgun while under the influence.
"I was impaired, I must admit," McAfee told CNBC.
Here's the story according to him.
"I had just that morning received a prescription for Xanax from a doctor. ... I'd never taken them before." McAfee said he was driving when his phone fell between his seat and the console of the car, and as he was digging to retrieve it, his driving became erratic. A highway patrol officer pulled him over. "The arresting officer decided that I needed a blood test, which I agreed to." McAfee also admits he had a weapon in the car. "I always carry a weapon, and if you are not impaired in the state of Tennessee it is not illegal to have weapons in the car. So we'll just have to wait and see what the judge says about that." One report claims alcohol was involved, but McAfee said that is not the case, and he is confident the blood test results will prove that.
Earlier reports claimed McAfee said there was a shootout with police, but he told CNBC that was his joking reply to questions from a British newspaper. He said that when the reporter for a tabloid asked about "the shootout," he "foolishly" replied, "As soon as I heard gunfire, I assumed my ex-wife had caught up with me, and naturally returned fire." In truth? "There was no shootout." (McAfee also joked to this reporter that he was innocent of all charges, and a "time stamped" sex tape of him and his wife would exonerate him.)
Police took McAfee into custody, where he posed for a smiling mug shot, and then he was released on his own recognizance.
CNBC contacted the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Henderson County Sheriff's office for details about the arrest. We are still waiting for a reply. The local district attorney's office told CNBC it has not yet received the case. However, McAfee believes he could potentially face felony charges. Still, "I'm not really concerned."
McAfee said he enjoys living in Lexington. "They have a Wal-Mart and a Walgreen's, which is all you really need." However, he said he started taking Xanax due to stress. "I live a very stressful existence. If you believe the stories and believe the Belizian government might still be after me, that's a very stressful situation." He added that his wife encouraged him to see a doctor. "My wife is sort of put out because I'm up and down all night long looking out windows and things. I mean, people do think I'm paranoid, and perhaps that's a paranoid act."
The security pioneer is due in court later this month, but he is in Las Vegas this week at Defcon 23 to promote new products from his company. One product is called Demon Saw, which McAfee described as "the first social encryption product." He spoke to CNBC at length about how the cybersecurity industry he helped create no longer functions. "The problem we have today is that our systems have zero security. Our cellphones, whether it's IOS or Android, are designed specifically to allow applications and other people to get information about you, that's how they make their money."
He believes the solution for security companies like the one he created is to hire a hacker for every programmer, and together go line by line through software as it's being developed to look for holes. The current model is to wait until after development is finished to find flaws, sometimes requiring expensive rewrites. "Yes, it's expensive," he said, but he added that it's not as expensive as having "millions of people lose their data, their money."
Even so, won't his controversial and crazy life make it tougher for McAfee to credibly run a business and sell products? "My life and the products of my life are two separate things."
Is he still in fear for his life? "Oh yes, absolutely."