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.
Black Hat’s organizers will not be filling Jack’s spot at the event as a mark of respect for a “legendary and irreplaceable” man. Security firm IOActive also tweeted their condolences in homage of their “beloved pirate.”
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 another presentation, Jack said he could hack insulin pumps to order the machines to deliver lethal doses to patients, in turn killing them.
“We notified the manufacturer of the vulnerability and it will be fixed with the next insulin pump revision,” he told Vice.
Jack’s most recent employer, security firm IOActive, said in a statement, “Lost but never forgotten our beloved pirate, Barnaby Jack has passed. He was a master hacker and dear friend. Here’s to you Barnes!”
Black Hat is scheduled to begin Wednesday in Las Vegas, with a presentation by NSA Chief Gen. Keith Alexander. It will be immediately followed by the Def Con hacker conference, which will be taking place just down the road. Researchers at Def Con plan to demonstrate various high-profile hacks, including how modern cars can be compromised.