The security community remains in a mixed state of grief and confusion this morning, as word of Barnaby Jack's passing spreads. Known for his work on embedded devices, from the financial world to the medical one, the 35 year-old hacker was a beloved family member to the InfoSec community.
According to the San Francisco Medical Examiner, Barnaby Jack passed-away on Thursday, at 7:50 p.m. local time, but the office would not discuss any further details. The news was confirmed by his sister, Amberleigh, Friday morning. The lack of information has left many of his friends and peers — his extended family — in confusion as they struggle to deal with his sudden loss.
He is best remembered by much of the public for his research in 2010, where he disclosed flaws that enabled a person to force ATMs to spit out cash, a process he called Jackpotting. Video of that talk, along with slides, is available here.
His career and research interests went beyond financial hacking however, as he focused on embedded devices including those used by the medical world. After the ATM presentation, Jack went on to deliver research on vulnerabilities within SCADA systems, implantable insulin pumps, and more recently, ICDs, or Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators.
In an interview with Vice about his latest work, published last month, Jack explained that the vulnerabilities he recently discovered in the ICDs impact millions of devices. Even worse, these flaws could be exploited to deliver "a high voltage shock of up to 830 volts" from 50-feet away.
"I wanted to look at these devices with the aim of demonstrating and raising awareness of the issues I found, then hopefully spark the manufacturers into implementing a more secure design," Jack told Vice.
As word of his untimely death spread on Friday, researchers and security experts each shared photos and memories of their friend.
"Lost but never forgotten our beloved pirate, Barnaby Jack has passed. He was a master hacker and dear friend. Here's to you Barnes!" — IOActve, Jack's employer
"When I first saw tweets that Barnaby Jack died, I thought it may be a hoax. Sadly, I learned it was true. Great hacker and friend. RIP." - — Kevin Mitnick
"Great memory: Barnaby Jack shooting me in the face with water through a hacked insulin pump whilst doing shots. RIP Barns. You made me laugh." — Dave Marcus
Barnaby Jack was a brilliant researcher, but his friends will always remember him as the man who was quick with a joke and the man who always wore a smile. No matter where he was, he brought a unique energy with him that quickly spread to those around him. His family, on and offline, miss him deeply, and the world is a lesser place without him.
In a statement, Black Hat, where Jack was slated to present his ICD research next week, said that the time slot for his talk will not be replaced:
"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."