Security researcher Barnaby Jack has passed away in San Francisco, only days before a scheduled appearance at a Las Vegas hacker conference where he intended to show how an ordinary pacemaker could be compromised in order to kill a man.
Jack, who previously presented hacks involving ATMs and insulin pumps at the annual Black Hat conference in Vegas, was confirmed dead Friday morning by the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office, Reuters reported. He passed away Thursday this week, but the office declined to offer any more details at this time.
Jack’s death came one week to the day before he was scheduled to detail one of his most recent exploits in a Black Hat talk called “Implantable Medical Devices: Hacking Humans.”
“I was intrigued by the fact that these critical life devices communicate wirelessly. 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 told Vice last month.
After around six months of research, Jack said he developed a way to hack one of those devices remotely and send it a high-voltage shock from upwards of 50 feet away.
“If the devices can be accessed remotely, there’s always a potential for abuse,” he told Vice tech reporter William Alexander.
In a blog post earlier this year, Jack said he was influenced by a recent episode of the television program “Homeland,” in which a terrorist remotely hacked the pacemaker of the United States vice president.
“In my professional opinion, the episode was not too far off the mark,” he wrote.
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