Wednesday, June 23, 2021

John McAfee (1945-2021) Launched Security Software in Response to "Pakistani Brain" Virus

Security software pioneer John McAfee was found dead in his jail cell in Spain today. He was 75 years old. He started McAfee Associates in 1987 in his small house in Silicon Valley, in response to the news of a Pakistani computer virus called Pakistani Brain, thought to be the first to infect personal computers. Miko Hypponen, a top software expert, believes that "they (Pakistani brothers Amjad and Basit Alvi) never meant to destroy any data or cause any harm for anyone". He was fighting extradition to the United States from Spain to face federal charges of tax evasion. The US Justice Department indictment alleged that McAfee used cryptocurrency transactions to hide his earnings. 

John McAfee (1945-2021)

Pakistani Brothers: 

The year was 1986. Most personal computers used floppy disks to boot and to move files from one computer to another. Floppy disk was also the medium used by Amjad and Basit Alvi, two Pakistani brothers living in Lahore, to create and spread history's first known PC virus called "The Brain".  Here's how Mikko Hypponen, a software security expert, described it in 2014 at DEF CON, world's largest hackers convention held in Las Vegas:


Creators of First PC Virus: Amjad Farooq and Basit Farooq Alvi



"It's surprisingly advanced, and it has surprising features, including a capability of hiding itself. So when your PC is infected by Brain, and you go and look at your floppies, you will not see Brain on the floppies. It's watching you watching it, and if you try to look at the copy of Brain, it fools you and gives you a clean image of a floppy instead. And we would call this a stealth virus, at the time....
These guys weren't evil at all. They weren't evil even then, 25 years ago, when they wrote the first PC virus. Their intention was never to cause harm to anybody, and they didn't, of course, realize that they made history when they wrote the first PC virus. But Brain was the only virus they ever wrote and they never meant to destroy any data or cause any harm for anyone".  

The Brain, also known as The Pakistani Brain, is the virus that challenged John McAfee to develop anti-virus software. Later, John McAfee launched his company that was acquired in 2010 by Intel for $7.7 billion, then sold its majority stake to an investment firm six years later. McAfee is just one of several security software companies inspired by the Pakistani Brain virus. Security software market size is estimated at nearly $180 billion in 2021. 

Pakistani Software Entrepreneurs: 

There are several well-known Pakistani entrepreneurs in the security software industry. Among them is Ashar Aziz who founded Fire-eye. Massive cyberattack that recently targeted US government agencies and private companies, labeled the 'SolarWinds hack', was first discovered by US cybersecurity company FireEye, founded by a well-recognized Pakistani-American cybersecurity expert Ashar Aziz. Karachi-born Ashar served as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Fireeye from 2004 to 2012.  Ashar became the first Pakistani-American tech billionaire when the company stock soared after its initial public offering (IPO) in 2013. His net worth was last estimated at $268 million in 2015

Ashar Aziz

Solar Winds Hack:

Solarwinds is a cybersecurity toolset used by multiple US government agencies to detect and stop cyberattacks. It is alleged by American government agencies that some Russian-sponsored hackers managed to compromise Solarwinds software by adding malware to updates distributed by the company to its customers. It only came to light when the perpetrators attempted to break into the cybersecurity firm FireEye, which first disclosed a breach on December 9.  Here's how Fireeye describes it:

"FireEye has uncovered a widespread campaign, that we are tracking as UNC2452. The actors behind this campaign gained access to numerous public and private organizations around the world. They gained access to victims via trojanized updates to SolarWind’s Orion IT monitoring and management software. This campaign may have begun as early as Spring 2020 and is currently ongoing. Post compromise activity following this supply chain compromise has included lateral movement and data theft. The campaign is the work of a highly skilled actor and the operation was conducted with significant operational security". 

Summary:

Security software pioneer John McAfee was found dead in his jail cell in Spain today. He was facing tax evasion charges in the United States. He started McAfee Associates in 1987 in his small house in Silicon Valley, in response to the news of a Pakistani computer virus called Pakistani Brain, thought to be the first to infect personal computers.  "The Brain" was the first computer virus that infected large numbers of computers worldwide. It was developed by Amjad and Basit Alvi, two Pakistani brothers in Lahore, Pakistan.  Miko Hypponen, a top software expert, believes that "they (Pakistani brothers) never meant to destroy any data or cause any harm for anyone".



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6 comments:

Unknown said...

Riaz Bhai, which goes to prove- Pakistanis are good at destruction. No constructive things are possible from them.

Riaz Haq said...

UK: "which goes to prove- Pakistanis are good at destruction. No constructive things are possible from them"

To the contrary, these Alvi brothers from Pakistan helped the world realize the dangers faced by it. They did what any ethical hacker would do: warn without causing any harm.

Below is how computer security expert Mikko Hyponnen described in 2013 what Alvi brothers did in 1986:

"It's surprisingly advanced, and it has surprising features, including a capability of hiding itself. So when your PC is infected by Brain, and you go and look at your floppies, you will not see Brain on the floppies. It's watching you watching it, and if you try to look at the copy of Brain, it fools you and gives you a clean image of a floppy instead. And we would call this a stealth virus, at the time....
These guys weren't evil at all. They weren't evil even then, 25 years ago, when they wrote the first PC virus. Their intention was never to cause harm to anybody, and they didn't, of course, realize that they made history when they wrote the first PC virus. But Brain was the only virus they ever wrote and they never meant to destroy any data or cause any harm for anyone".


https://www.npr.org/transcripts/209176171

Riaz Haq said...

Spanish authorities opened an investigation into the death of software pioneer John McAfee after he was found dead in his jail cell from an apparent suicide.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/john-mcafees-death-was-likely-suicide-spanish-authorities-say-11624537038?mod=hp_lead_pos11

His body was found Wednesday at a facility near Barcelona, hours after a Spanish court ordered his extradition in connection with a federal criminal proceeding in Tennessee. Mr. McAfee, the 75-year-old founder of antivirus software company McAfee Corp., had been detained in Spain since October in connection with criminal charges filed by the Justice Department’s tax division.

“Everything indicates that it could be a death by suicide,” a spokeswoman for the Justice Department of the Catalan regional government told The Wall Street Journal Thursday.

The spokeswoman said that a local judicial delegation is investigating the cause and circumstances of Mr. McAfee’s death and took his body away from the jail to carry out an autopsy.

Mr. McAfee’s body was found in his cell at around 7 p.m. local time. Security personnel tried to resuscitate him, but the jail’s medical team later declared him dead, the spokeswoman said.

Mr. McAfee shared the cell with another man, but he was alone when he was found, she said. The spokeswoman said she couldn’t comment further.

Ahmed said...


Dear Sir

Thank you for sharing this post, Sir according to Alvi Brothers, when they were interviewed by Expert Mikko, they said that they wanted to design and develope a software which could detect the piracy of the Windows Operating System but accidently it turned out to be a virus.

SAMIR SARDANA said...

THE KEY QUOTE "The US Justice Department indictment alleged that McAfee used cryptocurrency transactions to hide his earnings"




Govtts,besides PRC,face an existential threat from Bitcoin and Cryptos ! It is not that it rivals the USD - that is nonsense.The threat to PRC has evaporated,as COVID has busted banks and economies all over the world,and PRC is relative much better.Therefore,there is NO INCENTIVE for Chinese to BUY BTC,besides speculation - for which the door to Macau is open - as the casino profits - then come back to PRC !

The REAL BTC threat is that it BYPASSES THE banking system ! It is not that the banks will collapse and people will withdraw their money from the banks - and take a red eye to BTC ! That also,is not likely in the short term.

The threat is that trade and commerce will BYPASS THE BANKING SYSTEM !

If A sells to B in POS store or online or by a wire transfer - the money goes to his bank - irrespective of FX chosen.Cash can be hoarded,of course, but up to a limit

Once the money hits the banks - then the trail is set ! EVEN IF THE PAYER IS NOT TRACEABLE - the recipient is screwed .Besides FATF - he comes in the Direct and Indirect tax net ! It is this tax net which feeds the corrupt government and politicians.

So in a trade through BTC or other CrC (Crypto Coin),the Govtt loses the entire revenue on that supply chain and value chain - FOREVER - and that will catalyse more and more of such trades.In fact it will start a BTC supply chain - with its tech platforms - wherein manufacturing upto a limit - will NOT PAY ANY TAXES TO the government.

The advantage to the buyer of the goods is that ,he get the items free of VAT or taxes - so it is 10-20 % cheaper,and he has anonymity of payment (if not of purchase)

AND THEN,THIS WILL BANKRUPT THE STATE AND THE BANKS (AS ALL THIS LIQUIDITY WILL EXIT THE BANKS AND WILL ALSO DESTROY BANK SOLVENCY AND THE MONETARY POLICY OF THE FED -AS INTEREST RATES AND CREDIT POLICY,WILL NO LONGER BE A LEVER FOR ANY ECONOMIC DECISIONS AND OUTCOMES !

That is the EXISTENTIAL THREAT TO THE WORLD AND ESPECIALLY TO THE "USA".

Take the case for India - the Bad assets are USD 400 Billion USD and COVID has aided the banks in hiding more !

It is CERTAIN THAT THE GOI WILL DEMONETISE BANK DEPOSITS ACROSS THE BOARD TO OFFSET THE LOAN LOSSES !

Y WILL PEOPLE PUT MONEY IN BANKS ? The same is the story in most parts of the world.

BTC supply comes from LOW COST POWER NATIONS
BTC demand comes from INEVITABLE DEMAND WHICH IS EXPECTED from BUSTED NATIONS LIKE INDIA - AND SPECUALTORS IN THE US/EU PUNTING ON IT
BTC THREAT COMES FROM THE USA and EU - the existential threat ! BTC is not a threat to PRC !

AND THAT IS WHAT MAKES IT A PERFECT INVESTMENT BET ! dindooohindoo

COULD IT BE THAT THE US AND EU ARE USING BTC TO TRAP INVESTORS,INFLATE THE BALLOON AND THEN BLOW IT UP ? THAT WILL WIPE OUT THE SPECULATIVE LIQUIDITY IN THE ECONOMIES - AND THE WEST CAN DO A FALSE FLAG - LINK THE MONEY TO CRYPTOS - AND THEN USE THAT TO BLOW IT UP !

SAMIR SARDANA said...

SPEAKING OF PEOPLE WHO WOORY ABOUT THE CARBON PRINT OF BTC

THE SOLUTION IS TO MINE BASED ON POWER FROM HYDRO, IN THOSE NATIONS,WHERE THE OPPORTUNITY COST OF POWER IS LOW, IN TERMS OF THE ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY COST,FUSED WITH ENVIRONMENTAL COSTS

SO A NATION WHICH HAS ALMOST FREE HYDRO POWER, IT CAN USE IT TO MAKE STEEL AND ALUMINIUM OR MINE BITCOIN ! WHAT WILL IT CHOOSE ?

THE CHOICE IS CLEAR !

THEN COMES GEO THERMAL ,SOLAR AND WIND ! IF A NATION HAS THESE SOURCES IN ABUNDANCE - BUT NO VIABLE MANUFACTURING OR EXPORT SECTOR - THEN WHAT TO DO ? MINE BITCOIN !

THEN WE COME TO NATIONS WHEREIN COAL IS IN ABUNDANCE,BUT THERE ARE NO CEMENT OR POWER PLANTS. WHAT IS THE BEST USE ? BITCOIN !

SO THE 1ST OPTION IS MINING BTC , AND THEN THE NEXT OPTION LIES IN HOSTING THE SERVERS ,WHICH HOST THE CRYPTO TRANNSACTIONS !

FOR HYBRID OFFGRID RENEWABLES WITH DIESEL POWER BACK UP - WHICH ARE OFF THE GRID - THE "ONLY VIABLE USE" IS BTC ! AND THE SAME APPLIES TO BASE LOAD POWER PRODUCED BY IPPs - THAT SUPPLY CAN ONLY BE ABSORBED BY BTC AND ALSO LOWER THE POWER COSTS TO THE IPP !