Computer hacker Barnaby Jack found dead at San Francisco home

Jack became famous for making cash machines spit out bank notes

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The Independent Tech

One of the world's most celebrated computer hackers who forced cash machines to spit out bank notes has been found dead at home.

Barnaby Jack was discovered by “a loved one” at an apartment in San Francisco on Thursday evening. Foul play had been ruled out by police.

His sister Amberleigh Jack, who lives in New Zealand, told Reuters he was 35 years old. But she declined to comment further, saying she needed time to grieve.

Jack became one of the most famous hackers after demonstrating in 2010 his special brand of “Jackpotting” - getting ATMs to spew out American bills.

He was due to appear at the Black Hat hacking convention in Las Vegas next week, demonstrating techniques for remotely attacking implanted heart devices. He said he could kill a man from nine metres away.

His specialism was finding bugs in the tiny computers embedded in equipment such as medical devices and banking machines. He often received standing ovations at hacking conventions for his creativity and showmanship.

The hacking community expressed shock as the news of his death spread via Twitter early on Friday. “Wow ... Speechless,” Tweeted mobile phone hacker Tyler Shields.

Jack's most recent employer, the cyber security consulting firm IOActive Inc, said in a Tweet: “Lost but never forgotten our beloved pirate, Barnaby Jack has passed.”

Jack had served as IOActive's director of embedded device security. While his famous attacks on US cash machines brought him the most attention, his work on medical devices may have a bigger impact.

Two years ago, while working at McAfee, he engineered methods for attacking insulin pumps that prompted medical device maker Medtronic Inc to bring in outside security firms and revamp the way it designs its products. He followed that up with work on heart devices that he was to present at Black Hat next week in his first presentation at the annual convention since 2010.

Jack told Reuters in an interview last week that he had devised a way to attack heart patients by hacking into a wireless communications system that links implanted pacemakers and defibrillators with bedside monitors that gather information about their operations.

“I'm sure there could be lethal consequences,” he said.

He declined to name the manufacturer of the device, but said he was working with that company to figure out how to prevent malicious attacks on heart patients.