How iPhone GPS tagging revealed John McAfee’s hideout

John Mcafee’s Last Known Location, Rio Dulce, Guatemala.

I’ve been following the sad story of former anti-virus expert John McAfee, who created a successful software company, sold it, and did what a lot of us tech types joke about: moved to an exotic locale — in this case Belize — and built a fancy estate there.

Problem is, John’s also gone a bit wiggy with all that time in Belize, and he’s now a fugitive on the run, trying to avoid Belize detectives who are convinced he either knows a whole lot about the murder of his neighbor (who had been complaining about John’s pack of guard dogs for months) or is possibly the murderer himself. He is, as they say, “a person of interest.”
In response, John split. He just vanished. And then he’s been blogging about being a guy on the run, saying essentially that he’s too smart for the cops and they’ll never find him. Coupled with his reputed paranoia and love of conspiracies, I have visions of a real life Jerry Fletcher (Mel Gibson) from the film Conspiracy Theory, actually.
What tripped him up was when he invited a journalist to meet with him and they promptly posted a photo of John in hiding with the subtle and nuanced caption “We are with John McAfee right now, suckers.”
Problem was, they hadn’t turned off geolocation tagging on their iPhone camera app and it took just a moment or two for a hacker to grab the photo, extract the lat/long info and identify John as being in Guatemala, just north of the Belize border.
Heck, you could just download the photo, add it to iPhoto or Aperture, then open up map view to see where it was taken. Or you can convert the info to something Google Maps friendly — +15° 39′ 29.4, -88° 59′ 31.8 — and find out John’s at the Restaurante Ranchon Mary in Rio Dulce, Guatemala.
So here’s my handy tip for John and other scofflaws: Next time you’re on the lam and want to pose for photos for the paparazzi, can I just recommend you read my article on how to disable GPS geolocation tagging on iPhones, so you can ensure that they won’t blow your cover?
See also “witness protection program”.
And I also predict we’ll see this hacking exploit showing up in a TV thriller or movie within 12 months.

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