John McAfee—namesake of the anti-virus software—thinks he knows who hacked Ashley Madison
“Ashley Madison was not hacked,” declares John McAfee, the cybersecurity entrepreneur known for his drug-dosing, gun-toting, murder accusation-dodging persona, in a post on the International Business Times. Rather, he says, the site was ransacked by an ex-employee. A female ex-employee.
“[T]he data was stolen by a woman operating on her own who worked for Avid Life Media,” he says, referencing the company that owns the extramarital affairs site AshleyMadison.com, which has been the subject a major security breach and several data dumps last week.
McAfee, namesake of the anti-virus software company picked up by Intel (INTC) in 2011, says he has pored over the 40 gigabytes of data released so far by the alleged Ashley Madison hacking group, which calls itself “Impact Team.” Analysis of the data has led him to draw three conclusions: 1. The hack was a solo affair, 2. The breach was perpetrated by an insider, and 3. A woman is behind it.
As evidence, McAfee cites research involving the “wording” of the leaker’s manifestos, the attacker’s “intimate knowledge of the technology stack of the company,” as well as his own expertise and “reliable sources within the Dark Web—which have yet to fail me.”
For evidence in support of the first claim—that the hack was a solo affair—you’ll have to read McAfee’s July IBTimes post to assess its validity. Okay, fine…here’s the spoiler: “I cannot tell you how I know, but the simple published data should help point to this fact.” In other words, you’ve got to take the man at his word.
As for his conclusion that the hack was perpetrated by an insider? Well, he says, the alleged hacker simply knew too much about the corporate IT network. Plus, the attacker gave herself away by calling out individual employees by name.
Lastly, why a woman? (Word of warning: This part of McAfee’s analysis may rub some people the wrong way.) He cites the attacker’s use of the word “scumbags” and her apparent predilection for Valentine’s Day as decidedly feminine. Really, he does.
“If this does not convince you then you need to get out of the house more often,” he says.
Of course, McAfee is a bit of a character in the cybersecurity world. Mm…okay, that’s an understatement. The man revels in his image as a loose canon libertine. He fled Belize in 2012 after being accused of murdering his neighbor. He has claimed to be the target of assassins. He has been arrested for driving while under the influence—and packing heat.
On the other hand, McAfee is also an established name in security, an innovator who made millions through his eponymous anti-virus software.
Nevertheless, a writer at Gizmodo has taken the opportunity to criticize McAfee’s Sherlock Holmesian forensics as “pretty subjective, not to mention offensive” as well as “obscenely sexist.”
Fortune will let you draw your own conclusions. Although we suspect McAfee’s contribution will not win him that $500,000 bounty. At least not yet.