John McAfee has had enough of excessive app permissions – introduces Dcentral1



Now that the long running war with Intel is behind him, John McAfee feels like the best thing about it all is that he can finally put his name behind a security product again.  The first of his projects is about to come together in a new product that launches on March 1st.  The product is called Dcentral1, a free to download app for Android mobile phones and tablets.  It protects those devices by empowering the user to be fully aware of all the permissions that applications have been granted on a device, knowingly or not.  Think of it as a mobile applications audit.  It’s a problem that has lacked an answer for a long time and that’s a campaign that McAfee has been on for some time – we are walking around with powerful portable computers in our pockets and trusting these applications to do the things they do is bad news.

In a non-descript Montreal office building, McAfee demonstrated how one popular chat application in particular had by default been granted what can only be described as excessive permissions.  The application has access to things like:  all call history, contacts, GPS, camera access, the ability to silently make calls and even turn off notifications of these activities to the user.   I install the app on my own phone to see this and sure enough, it’s pretty shocking.   If you think about it, if one were to describe a program that did all of these things on a PC, it could be called malware.  McAfee states that there are thousands upon thousands of apps out there doing the exact same thing, taking more permissions than are clearly necessary or that you may be comfortable with.

Security, Privacy, Freedom, there’s more that you can do

Privacy watchdogs have long advised the public to be aware of the applications they are installing, be careful with the permissions they request, and be sure you trust the source where they are being gathered from.  Many take this advice to heart, but as it turns out, that’s just not enough and it’s just not reasonably possible for the average phone user to routinely be on top of.  Before long permissions increasingly creep as applications update with new features, app updating begins to happen in the background and people stop paying attention altogether over time; as they switch phones and install apps throughout their digital lives from all over the place.    That’s the cold hard truth and as McAfee and others pointed out in our cybersecurity prediction series over the last few weeks, the human factor will always be the weakest link in any security system.  We’re letting these applications do what they want without giving it all full thought.  After all installing apps is quite easy, tap a few buttons and we trade a place on our devices for whatever functionality that app is selling, but that is increasingly not working out to be a fair trade.  The results could mean a loss of privacy, loss of control of your device or possibly a loss of information that you don’t want to happen.

“When it comes to these portable computing devices, we have these great big steel doors protecting a paper house, that’s why we’ve launched this product.  Endpoint protection, anti-virus, anti-malware, even encryption – all of those mean nothing if you have voluntarily given these applications access to everything”

Control your smartphone, know your apps

Dcentral1 by John McAfee

Dcentral1 is aiming to put that control back in people’s hands.  The app functions on the same kernel that is the core of McAfee’s future product D-Central.  D- Central of course is the product that was famously proclaimed as an anti-NSA device for the masses, designed to thwart rampant data collection by decentralizing the connective nature of your client device.   That hardware-based product is still forthcoming scheduled for now for later in the year.  Cognisant is but one piece of the full-on suite that McAfee is building because he sees the threat as far more than addressing these over-reaching apps, there are other threats to privacy and security out there that include the NSA.


“Info collection is everywhere and people have just assumed that all these apps are on the up and up – that’s a big problem.  When you ask yourself what a chat app is doing with built-in capabilities to silently make calls and put out other information, it’s a pretty dire picture.  It’s all about taking information, accessing your location, your camera and we’re losing our privacy.  There are many companies doing this, but that’s not the only threat, we’ve talked about the NSA but many governments are doing this as well.  There are persistent rumors and documented concerns about how much information is leaking to countries like China and Russia.  It would be surprising if they weren’t taking data at will at the highest levels possible right now, so why would it be any different for these applications.  There are also cybercriminals out there that live off of information they gather, it’s a big target.  When I launched McAfee Associates 27 years ago, the world of PC security was basically the Wild West and no one was really aware of the threat and the very real dangers we still deal with today.  We are in that exact same spot again.”

The timing of this is rather interesting as people are still reacting to news barely over a week old that had the NSA and GCHQ mining the popular phone apps that were leaking information, such as the incredibly successful and widespread game app Angry Birds.  The agencies have put systems in place to collect this commercial data that was freely given up by the applications.  ‘Leaky’ apps translates on one level to outbound information that is granted by permission apps – a perfect use case scenario for Dcentral1 it would seem.

McAfee 2.0 – ReLaunch

McAfee has done this before – bootstrapping a business that was ultimately acquired for over $7.6 billion.  One thing that is clearly different today is how McAfee is launching a company this time around.  Settled into Montreal, his operation is a global network of conference calls and virtual meetings that is heavily focused right now up to the launch with developers and engineers.  As if the fact that the first product is destined to be a Google Play app weren’t enough evidence, McAfee has picked up the framework of the modern startup quickly and he sees great things for this new venture ahead.   As Dcentral1 launches and the complete suite of Future Tense products are developed, there will be plenty of attention in this age of privacy concerns.

John McAfee is scheduled to sit down live on CrowdChat to take your questions and talk about Dcentral1. 

February 14, 2014 at 3pm EST.



31 responses to “John McAfee has had enough of excessive app permissions – introduces Dcentral1”

  1. Name ..jaybird. Avatar

    Sony wouldn’t produce the Jobs biopic, but would they
    refuse the World’s Greatest HackBuster?

  2. J Avatar

    When will it be available for iPhones?

  3. Kaleb Pruitt Avatar

    Is DCentral1 compatible with Cyanogenmod?

  4. Bob Riese Avatar

    On the search, spell it correct ‘DCentral1’…NO spaces.

  5. Tim Avatar

    Can we please have a extension to a windows phone. Thank you Mcafee, been following your stuff for a very long time time.

    Best of luck

  6. GuidoW Avatar

    I can’t find this app anywhere… it’s GOT to be a joke! AJ even interviewed this guy a COUPLE of times now. I can’t find it. Honestly, it’s one of those “too good to be true” thingies. 😛

  7. kelly Avatar

    i cant find the this app only for iphones and droids? hey john,what about my laptop

  8. kelly Avatar

    or….spy vs spy lol

  9. misiano Avatar

    Still cant find app….

  10. Billy Kidd Avatar
    Billy Kidd

    Its funny, while this new app sounds great, its also interesting to know all of the current McAfee apps ask for the same permissions as the ones this app is supposed to be protecting against.

  11. Andrew ( Tyranny Watch UK ) Avatar

    Awsome itching to try it. this is real game changer.

    Curious a whole new industry has cropped up as a result of NSA spying revelations.

    Look forward to the VPN project your working on, it’s fun playing cat and mouse.

    The more control people are subjectected to the more people get educated and find ways round things.

    Be safe… Andrew

  12. jetorbit Avatar

    Don’t see the apartment on Google play yet…any links? Loved your infowars interview John. Keep up the good work.

  13. Nathan Avatar

    it feels like i have been waiting a few days, what time are you launching congnizant??

  14. bruce landos Avatar
    bruce landos

    when will the download be available?

  15. Anthony Avatar

    No Cognizant app for the iPhone coming?

  16. Todd P Avatar
    Todd P

    How do you know it comes out then on the 18th?
    His interview at Infowars said the Android app was already out with others to come soon.
    you would thing the author of an app would have a link to it on his own website or keep telling people that dates for these apps.

  17. frankie Avatar

    Don’t be surprised if Google tries to suppress it, Spying is Google’s Bread and Butter!

  18. McAfee sympathizer Avatar
    McAfee sympathizer

    How do you feel about using a Free Software license such as GPL for complete transparency, and also making it available in the FDroid app store?

    Have you heard of the Neo900 smartphone project and ReplicantOS? Neo900 is an open hardware project designed for privacy (the modem chip is separate from the CPU and memory), and Replicant OS is an Android distribution that removes all closed source proprietary software and replaces it with Free Software. It uses the FDroid app store which contains only GPL licensed Free Software such as OsmAnd, an Open Street Maps based offline navigation system. I think Neo900+ReplicantOS+FDroid apps are the ulimate way to protect your privacy.

  19. Joseph Neil Avatar
    Joseph Neil

    Hi John. I really enjoyed your Interview with Alex Jones Last Night (3/14/2014. I will be waiting in Line to get your New App ‘Cognizant’. I know from your Interview with AJ that this App Works with android phones, but will it also work with Our Regular Laptops with Windows 8? I sure would like to get Rid of Nasty Stuff on My Computer.

    Wishing You the BEST in Your Future.
    Joe Neil

  20. chris mack Avatar
    chris mack

    is it only for android based or is it available for apple products?

    Keep up the good work

    chRIS mC

  21. mrpom Avatar

    Not out until 3/18

  22. TH Avatar

    OK haven’t been able to find Cognizant anywhere in the Google playstore. Is there a delay in the rollout ? Please update us.

  23. Name ..jaybird. Avatar

    John would love to hear your analysis of the virtual currency meltdown and how social media and phone apps. could circumvent government and traditional financial controls when secure parties exchange.

  24. Bewitched , Bothered and Bewildered Avatar

    So What\\’s happening to all the projects ?Documentaries, books, feature films Graphic novels …About Mr mcAfee Are they still relevant and or viable ? Or just more smoke and mirrors ?

  25. Name ..jaybird. Avatar

    What do you call a call a tech billionaire in Kiev? Perhaps a McAbee.

  26. Aryeh Goretsky Avatar


    I simply searched on ‘Cognizant,’ the name of Mr. McAfee’s new Android app, and found the name also belonged to a multi-billion dollar company. I don’t have anything to do with either Cognizant-the-company or Cognizant-the-Android app, so I’m sorry, but I really don’t understand what you’re asking me about.


    Aryeh Goretsky

  27. Name ..jaybird. Avatar

    John is that the reason Facebook paid 19 billion for

  28. sandwillow2 Avatar

    @ hasawife
    You’re lucky to have a wife cause you’re kind of a jerk.
    Knowledge isn’t painful and it’s available in a few seconds right on the screen in front of you.
    Try it, get a little, you might like it

  29. Hasawife Avatar

    GREAT COMMENT, Aryah!. You have a lot of time to be saying this… and share nothing of your story. You frames cost more than me and three friends ate last week. And now we know you waste more time than McAfee. Care to share?
    Should we black-hat each other into your suit? Aryeh the Android App, corrects 3 Billion people a day for leisure!… but spells his name like B O R I N G.

  30. Oleg Avatar

    Hi, John.

    Our team was a bit faster, we did free App Permissions app several months ago
    And it also comes from a company with 20 years of experience in security

  31. Aryeh Goretsky Avatar


    Just to check, that’s spelled “Cognizant,” just like the Fortune 100 company with over 171,000 employees that booked nearly $9B in revenue least year?


    Aryeh Goretsky