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McAfee chap is back in crypto-wrap chat app back flap

Claims airtight messaging security for tap-happy youth

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Antivirus pioneer and one-time fugitive John McAfee has backed Chadder, a new instant-messaging app for smartphones that promises "the highest degree of security and privacy."

The app is being marketed by Future Tense Central, a J.McAfee-owned company that claims to be headquartered in Silicon Valley, although McAfee himself was last spotted in Portland, Oregon.

As far as we can tell, however, Chadder was actually developed by Etransfr, a company formed by a group of programmers from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in New York. The official Chadder Google+ page says McAfee "discovered" the Etransfr team, and that they are in a "partnership" with Future Tense Central.

"The social media industry is built around the consumer also being the product," Etransfr founder Lexi Sprague said in a canned statement. "Chadder is here to prove that young people want privacy just as much as adults do.  The application is simple and straight forward with a lot of power given to the user."

Chadder offers security by encrypting and decrypting all messages on the endpoint devices. Although all messages must pass through Chadder's servers, only the encrypted text is ever stored. Etransfr can't read users' messages, the company claims, because only the intended recipient of a message will have the key needed to decrypt it.

In practice, however, the Chadder app is still in a rough state. Reaction from users so far has been mixed, with some criticizing its lack of features and even calling its security into question.

"This application is in beta!" reads a disclaimer on the app's page in the Google Play store. "We published it quickly and there is not a lot of features. The team thought everyone should have access to private messaging."

In addition to Chadder, Future Tense Central also publishes DCentral1, an app that scans the software on your mobile and reports on which permissions each app has been granted. This is not to be confused with D-Central, a similar-sounding gadget that McAfee said he was working on in 2013 but that has yet to materialize. As a press release issued on Monday said, "numerous other privacy and security solutions are under development."

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McAfee, 68, rose to prominence in the 1980s as the founder of McAfee Associates, but later disavowed the antivirus software that bore his name after selling off his stake in the company. Intel has since retired the brand, and McAfee the man has been known more for his bizarre antics than for software in recent years.

Chadder is available today as a free download for Android and Windows Phone, and Future Tense Central said an iOS version is under development and will be released in the coming weeks. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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