A sad piece of news about Barnaby Jack

I’m so sad to write that Barnaby Jack has died. I saw it in this Chicago Tribune article. There don’t seem to be many details about his death except that the police have ruled out foul play.

Barnaby and I were in touch about his work and we were going to schedule him as a guest on the oggcast Bradley Kuhn and I host, Free as in Freedom. I was floored when Barnaby wrote me and said that my presentation was partly the inspiration for his research on medical devices. Hearing about his work helped me stay focused and continue advocating in this area.

I was so impressed by Barnaby’s work that I mention it all the time. I was just interviewed by Linux Format at OSCON a day or two ago and brought him up then, recommending his work. White hat hacking is incredibly important in demonstrating that the systems we rely on are vulnerable in a way that people can understand. Until it was demonstrated that pacemaker/defibrillators could be maliciously hacked by Kevin Fu and his colleagues, no one took my concerns seriously at all. And then Barnaby took it to the next level. His genius and the focus he brought to the task made it possible for me to explain why proprietary software in medical devices (and in all of our society- and life-critical software) is so incredibly dangerous. Not to mention his flair of picking projects and ability to execute on them (he’s probably most well known for getting cash machines to spit out money).

We never got to have our talk where he was going to walk me through the nuts and bolts of the specific attacks he was working on. I am stunned. And saddened. Barnaby did amazing work and I’m so sorry it had to end.

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