Pacemaker-hacker Dies Young

Barnaby Jack was scheduled to talk about hacking pacemakers at the Black Hat convention in Vegas tomorrow, but was found dead last week in an apartment in San Francisco (police suspects no crime). Jack was controversial, famous for hacking ATMs and medical devices like insulin pumps – supposedly to expose security flaws. In his 2010 book You Are Not a Gadget – A Manifesto, Author and Silicon Valley visionary Jaron Lanier used Barnaby Jack’s work on pacemaker’s as a case against the idea that all knowledge is beneficial. Lanier argues that this sort of knowledge is dangerous in itself and that there is no reason to spend years of research on something like this. Netopia’s best guess is that Barnaby Jack would retort that it is even more important to show security weaknesses in life critical devices such as pacemakers and that he takes responsibility by not releasing all details of his findings. On the other hand, hackers will tell you that there is no such thing as a perfect system, only more difficult to hack into. Barnaby Jack’s premature passing is tragic and ironic, but his legacy is an important contribution to the discussion on technology and our power over it (or lack thereof).