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Hacker found dead just days before he was due to demonstrate how to kill someone fitted with a pacemaker at conference

3 min read

  • Barnaby Jack had said he could kill a person from 30 feet by using the  hack
  • Gained infamy after demonstrating how to  hack cash machines

By  David Gardner

PUBLISHED: 10:03 EST, 26  July 2013 |  UPDATED: 20:09 EST, 26 July 2013

Mystery surrounds the death of a celebrated  computer hacker who claimed to know how to remotely kill someone fitted with a  heart pacemaker – as happened in the fictional TV spy drama Homeland.

Barnaby Jack died in San Francisco on  Thursday, just days before he was due to give a speech revealing how implanted  heart devices were at risk from fatal hacking attacks.

The San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office  confirmed the death last night but did not give any  further  details.

Barnaby Jack twitter Profile imageBarnaby Jack demonstrates an attack on two automated teller machines

Mystery: The cause of Barnaby Jack’s death is currently  unknown. He gained notoriety after demonstrating how to hack into ATMs (pictured  right)

New Zealand-born Jack, 35, was scheduled to  be one of the star guests at the Black Hat hacking convention in Las Vegas next  week.

In a presentation called Hacking Humans, he  was planning to highlight the shortcomings of commonly used pacemaker machines  by demonstrating how he could hack into them and kill the heart patient from  50ft away with a deadly power surge triggered by a wireless  transmitter.

An episode of the acclaimed US series  Homeland, starring Damian Lewis and Claire Danes, showed a terrorist using a  computer to hack into the Vice-President’s pacemaker and speed up his heartbeat  until it kills him.

In Homeland, the killer needed the serial  number of the pacemaker, but Jack argued that in real life it was even simpler  and knowing the code was not necessary.

In a recent blog, he said: ‘The only  implausible aspect of the hack was the range in which the attack was carried  out.

‘The attacker would have had to be in the  same building or have a transmitter set up closer to the target. With that said,  the scenario was not too far-fetched.’

He said some pacemakers could be commanded to  deliver a deadly 830-volt shock from someone on a laptop up to 50ft away, the  result of poor software programming by medical device companies.

Barnaby Jack had claimed he had developed a technique for hacking pacemakers (file photograph) 

Barnaby Jack had claimed he had developed a technique  for hacking pacemakers (file photograph)

Jack claimed it was possible to infect the  pacemaker 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.’

The possibility of such attacks is being  taken so seriously by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that it has  asked manufacturers to ensure greater protection for newer pacemakers which use  wireless technology.

Jack became one of the world’s most famous  hackers after a 2010 demonstration of ‘Jackpotting’ – getting cash machines to  spew out money.

At the time of his death, Jack was director  of embedded-device security for Seattle information-security firm IOActive.

The company said in a tweet: ‘Lost but never  forgotten, our beloved pirate, Barnaby Jack, has passed.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2379009/Barnaby-Jack-dead-days-demonstrate-kill-fitted-pacemaker.html#ixzz2aEDuZ1Dz Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

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