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Pacemaker Hacking Hysteria and Conspiracies

Barnaby Jack Ethical Hacker I’ve been receiving tons of e-mail today from well-meaning friends to tell me about a major story in the news:

“Hacker Found Dead Before Revealing Pacemaker Hacking Secrets”

Actually, the major news outlets just picked up the story.  Ethical hacker Barnaby Jack was found dead on July 25, 2013.

In any case, the media is talking about a conspiracy against Jack, who was supposed to spill the beans on how to hack a pacemaker at the Black Hat Briefings hacking conference in Las Vegas.

In my humble opinion however, there are much easier ways to kill someone than to figure out a target’s IPG model, reverse engineer the AIMD’s communications protocol, and then get close enough to the victim to trigger inappropriate therapy delivery.

Needless to say, the dramatization of such an exploit in the December 2012 “Homeland” episode about a terrorist hacking into the vice-president’s ICD, commanding it to induce VF was totally ridiculous.  Unfortunately, the general public (and the “news” media)  is so ignorant that it believes anything concocted by Hollywood, so it comes to no surprise that Barnaby’s pacemaker hack would cause such sensation.

In reality, if something sinister went on, I would say that criminal minds and powerful players would probably have a lot more interest in Barnaby Jack’s ways of “jackpotting”, or exploiting ATMs in order to make them dispense cash.

The cause of death hasn’t been announced, but no foul play is being suspected by the San Francisco Police Department.

It is obvious that Barnaby Jack was a talented person who was passionate about his work, and it’s unfortunate that the media would exploit his death to sell sensationalistic stories instead of respecting the grief of his loved ones and patiently wait for an official report from the city’s medical examiner’s office.

 

 

 
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