A Hacker for good is gone for good.
According to Wikipedia: “Barnaby Jack was a New Zealand hacker, programmer and computer security professional.” Barnaby was one of the world’s foremost “White Hatters.” One of a group of talented individuals who are passionate about finding software bugs and fixing them before the bad guys got hold of them. In 2010 he discovered a flaw in ATM software that if exploited by remote administration, could cause bank machines to fraudulently dispense currency (spew out money) on the attacker’s command. A trick he demonstrated at a Black Hat conference which forced the equipment makers to close the loophole, as well as making him a sought-after presenter at security conferences.
Since that coup, Barnaby Jack has worked for McAfee and latterly was Director of Embedded Device Security at IOActive where his work on hacking embedded medical devices came to the attention of the US government.
Last year he demonstrated how an embedded insulin pump could be manipulated remotely from as much as 100 metres away and thus endangering the life of the user.
In a case of life being stranger than fiction, both the TV shows Elementary and Homeland have recently featured story-lines where individuals were killed by hacking and manipulating the performance of embedded heart pacemakers. This was something that Barnaby had been investigating and he had recently announced that in real life it was not unlike the TV shows, and it could be done without even knowing the pacemaker’s type or serial number. He claimed it was possible to infect the pacemaker or defibrillator companies’ servers with a bug that would spread through their system like a virus. “We are potentially looking at a worm with the ability to commit mass murder,” he added. “It’s kind of scary…”
Barnaby was booked to present his knowledge next week at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas. The news that at just 35 he was found dead last night in his Nob Hill apartment in San Francisco made my heart skip a beat.