A prominent hacker who was supposed to appear at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas and reveal how to remotely disrupt a pacemaker in order to kill someone has died.
Security researcher Barnaby Jack had previously presented hacks involving ATMs and insulin pumps. His death was confirmed dead by the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office but no other details are available at this time.
Jack was schedule to present “Implantable Medical Devices: Hacking Humans.”
He talked to Vice about the project last month.
“I was intrigued by the fact that these critical life devices communicate wirelessly," he said. "I decided to look at pacemakers and ICDs [implantable cardioverter defibrillators] to see if they communicated securely and if it would be possible for an attacker to remotely control these devices.”
Jack supposedly figured out a way to hack one of those devices remotely from up to 50 feet away.
“If the devices can be accessed remotely, there's always a potential for abuse,” he said.
Apparently Jack became intrigued with the topic because of a recent episode of the television program "Homeland," in which a terrorist remotely hacked the pacemaker of the vice president of the United States, RT reported.
“In my professional opinion, the episode was not too far off the mark,” he wrote on his blog. “Although the threat of a malicious attack to anyone with an implantable device is slim, we want to mitigate these risks no matter how minor.”
Jack’s employer, security firm IOActive, released a statement about his death.
“Lost but never forgotten our beloved pirate, Barnaby Jack has passed," read the statement. "He was a master hacker and dear friend. Here’s to you Barnes!”