Bitcoin battle has now assumed bigger dimensions and escalated into a “Cyber War proposition” mooted by one of the prominent Anti Virus and Security product manufacturer namely “John McAfee”. It is not clear if Mr McAfee has any controlling interest today in the company but it is reasonable to expect that he would wield a significant influence over the decisions of the company and perhaps on some of its loyal employees.
Additionally it appears that Mr McAfee has taken a leadership role in mobilizing hactivists to believe that there is a cause for which they should declare a war on India. Again it is not clear if the hactivists really consider Mr McAfee as a person whose words should be respected and they should launch an attack on India.
Nevertheless, as a Security Risk manager of India, CERT-IN cannot ignore the warning given by Mr McAfee that if India passes a legislation to ban Bitcoins in India, he is inviting a Cyber War against India.
McAfee is a company which was acquired by Intel in 2010 and later on spun off as a separate company. In 2017, an Asset Management Firm TPG (Texas Pacific Group) acquired controlling interest of 51% while Intel retained 49%.
It is possible that some of these private equity firms may be indirectly connected with John McAfee.
We recognize that McAfee is an independent professionally managed company today and is not influenced by the views of Mr john McAfee.
However, it is necessary for the company to clearly come out and disassociate itself with the statement of Mr McAfee and re affirm its commitment to fight Cyber Crimes and particulary, that it has no intentions to influence the decision of the Indian Government on Bitcoins.
McAfee as a company should recognize that sharing its name with Mr McAfee is a “Reputation risk” for the company and in situations like this, it is necessary for them to come out with appropriate assurances to the public that it is not in agreement with the call for a Cyber War on India given out by Mr McAfee.
I look forward to such a statement from the company. In the meantime, I request CERT-IN to send a notice to McAfee as a company asking them to clarify their views on the statement of Mr McAfee.
Until we receive a satisfactory response from the company, McAfee products should be put on watch since it is possible that it may be used to plant Bitcoin mining trojans or other types of malware to harm Indian interests.
I request CERT IN also to come up with a suitable clarification in this regard. I also invite our MPs like Rajeev Chandrashekar and Tejasvi Surya to raise this issue in the Parliament to obtain clarification from CERT-In.