Remembering White Hat Hacker, Barnaby Jack

Posted by Sarah Becker Thu, 05 Sep 2013 09:38:00 GMT

Barnaby Jack, who died in July 2013 at the age of 35, was a New Zealand born white hat hacker (hacker for non-malicious reasons or intending to improve security), computer programmer and security expert.

Jack was renowned among the computer security industry for his expertise and influence in medical and financial security. His research and ability to identify flaws in systems influenced medical device technology developer, Medtronic, to make safety and security improvements to their insulin pumps.

Jack came into widespread notice in 2010 when he presented at the computer security conference, Black Hat. During his “jackpotting” presentation, Jack proved that there were inherent weaknesses in ATM machines. On stage, he performed a remote attack to an ATM by connecting to it via a telephone modem and, without a password or PIN, was able to withdraw cash. Jack also performed a physical attack where, in about two minutes, he was able to deplete an ATM of all of its cash using only a flash drive containing malware.

Jack resided in San Francisco, CA and was survived by his mother, sister and girlfriend. His cause of death is unknown. He died only a week before he was due to demonstrate at a Black Hat conference again. His presentation was about how an assassin might kill a victim by disabling an implanted pacemaker or defibrillator from 30 feet away—an idea used in the American television series “Homeland”.

Jack’s influence has not only proved the importance of computer security across many industries, but has provided solutions for industry professionals to implement. We would have been honored to see Jack speak at a security conference about secure remote access and cloud computing in the health care industry, as we feel confident he would offer practical advice for how to maintain a secure network in this booming industry.

Readers, in the comments below, please share your memories of Jack.

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