Brian Buntz

August 8, 2013

2 Min Read
Medical Device Hacker Barnaby Jack Receives Posthumous 'Pwnie' Lifetime Achievement Award

Every year, the Black Hat USA security conference takes place in Las Vegas, NV. At the conference, hackers from all walks of life come to learn about security methods, hardware vulnerabilities, hacking techniques and more.

Barnaby Jack won a Pwnie Award at UBM's Black Hat conference.

Barnaby Jack won a Pwnie Award at UBM's Black Hat conference.

While this annual conference may be filled with a lot of people who operate outside of normal society, the conference has turned into a popular event for many companies. For example, the 2013 Black Hat USA keynote speech was delivered by Keith Alexander, director of the United States NSA.

Since the conference sees some of the top security researchers from around the world, three-letter government agencies use the event as an opportunity to recruit some of the best hackers in the field.

Possibly embarrassing for the government agency representatives is the fact that Edward Snowden was awarded a prize at the event. Specifically, Snowden was the the recipient of a 2013 Pwnie Award for 'Epic 0wnage'. As you probably gathered, "Pwnie" is based on an Internet slang corruption of the word "owned," which is rendered "pwned" because of common occurence of mistyping that word. In addition, "owned" itself is generic slang for "to lose."

The famous medical device hacker, Barnaby Jack, received a posthumous award for lifetime achievement. Barnaby Jack's exploits include an ATM hack that caused the machine to shoot out $20 bills while displaying the phrase "JACKPOT."

Recently, Barnaby Jack concentrated on safety and security for embedded medical devices like insulin pumps and pacemakers. Since most modern pacemakers can be programmed wirelessly, a malicious party could potentially take control of these pacemakers. Some hackers have speculated that a mono-directional antenna could be used to allow a malicious adversary to "assassinate" an individual wearing a susceptible pacemaker.

Barnaby Jack died at age 35 in San Francisco, CA. He was scheduled to deliver a presentation on wireless pacemaker security a few days before his death.

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