ATM hacker Barnaby Jack dies

The security researcher, who was expected to demonstrate newly-discovered pacemaker vulnerabilities at Black Hat next week, made headlines in 2010 when he hacked an ATM in front of an audience.

Security researcher Barnaby Jack demonstrates how he bypassed the security of two ATMs.
Security researcher Barnaby Jack demonstrates how he bypassed the security of two ATMs. Declan McCullagh/CNET

The computer-security community is in mourning following news that superstar hacker Barnaby Jack died on Thursday. The San Francisco resident was 35 years old.

The New Zealand native was the director of embedded device security at IOActive, a Seattle-based security evaluation company. He rose to prominence beyond the hacker community in 2010 when he demonstrated what he called "jackpotting" an ATM. He dragged two ATMs on-stage in front of a rapt audience, and then forced them to spew fake cash into the air.

The demonstration had been highly anticipated, delayed by a year after an ATM vendor pressured his then-employer to pull the talk from the Black Hat schedule.

Jack was scheduled to give another highly anticipated Black Hat presentation at the conference this coming Wednesday on how to hack defibrillators and pacemakers. He had apparently figured out a way to deliver a lethal high-voltage shock from 50 feet away via a compromised pacemaker.

IOActive said in a statement, "Lost but never forgotten our beloved pirate, Barnaby Jack has passed. He was a master hacker and dear friend. Here's to you Barnes!"

His research had a substantial impact. ATM vendors and banks attempted to assuage hacking concerns after Jack's demo, and insulin pump manufacturer Medtronic changed their designs after Jack disclosed how to hack them.

The cause of his death has not been made public. Reuters is reporting that he was found on Thursday evening at a Nob Hill apartment, and that the San Francisco Medical Examiner's Office is conducting an autopsy. Murder is not suspected as the cause of death.

Black Hat 2010 attendees grab wads of fake money spewed out by an ATM machine hacked by Barnaby Jack.
Black Hat 2010 attendees grab wads of fake money spewed out by an ATM machine hacked by Barnaby Jack. Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

 

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