InfoSec community mourns the loss of well-known hacker Barnaby Jack
Shock and grief in the security community after word spreads that famed embedded device hacker Barnaby Jack has died
By Steve Ragan, Staff Writer
July 26, 2013 — CSO —
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.