Barnaby Jack, reputed to be one of the best computer hackers on the planet and head of embedded devices at security firm IOActive, is dead.
The 35 year old was highly respected in computer security circles, often finding ‘back doors’ into systems that left them open to cyber attacks.
He found fame when he publicly hacked an ATM machine making it give out random amounts of money in a technique that became known as ‘jackpotting.’
His death, which is being described as ‘unexpected’ by friends, occurred on Thursday in San Francisco. The Medical Examiners Office has confirmed his death, but has given no other details so far.
Jack had discovered that medical devices such as insulin pumps and heart pacemakers could be hacked from a considerable distance, causing the pumps to dispense fatal doses of the drug and pacemakers to malfunction seriously enough to stop the wearer’s heart. The presentation was to explain to companies the vulnerabilities of such devices and how they could be improved to prevent tampering.
In 2006 the FDA began to approve fully wireless pacemakers and other medical devices and that’s when the vulnerabilities began to show up.
With millions of implantable devices in use in the United States alone, the possibility of some kind of mass murder atrocity is a very real one.
Black Hat said in a statement:
We have lost a member of our family. Everyone would agree that the life and work of Barnaby Jack are legendary and irreplaceable. Barnaby had the ability to take complex technology and intricate research and make it tangible and accessible for everyone to learn and grow from. Beyond his work in our industry, Barnaby was an incredibly warm hearted and welcoming individual with a passion for celebrating life. We all have a hilarious and upbeat story about Barnaby. He is truly a shining example of what we love about this community.
Black Hat will not be replacing Barnaby’s talk on Thursday, Aug. 1. No one could possibly replace him, nor would we want them to. The community needs time to process this loss. The hour will be left vacant as a time to commemorate his life and work, and we welcome our attendees to come and share in what we hope to be a celebration of his life. Barnaby Jack meant so much to so many people, and we hope this forum will offer an opportunity for us all to recognize the legacy that he leaves behind.
Our deepest sympathies go out to Barnaby Jack’s family and loved ones. Words cannot adequately describe how much he will be missed, but it is certain that Barnaby will NEVER be forgotten. (source)
What killed Barnaby Jack remains to be seen, though it’s distinctly possible we will never know for sure. It’s not inconceivable that someone, somewhere may not want the vulnerability of implantable medical devices, and of medical drug administration apparatus to become common knowledge. It would after all be a very convenient way to kill millions of people without even laying a finger on them.
Chris Carrington is a writer, researcher and lecturer with a background in science, technology and environmental studies. Chris is an editor for The Daily Sheeple, where this article first appeared. Wake the flock up!