Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

NZ super hacker Barnaby Jack dies in San Francisco

A New Zealand super hacker, who discovered a way to hack ATM machines and make them spew out cash, has died in San Francisco.

Barnaby Jack was found dead on Thursday evening by "a loved one" at an apartment on Nob Hill and foul play has been ruled out, a police spokesman told Reuters.

The San Francisco Medical Examiner's Office said it was conducting a post mortem examination, but it could be a month before the cause of death was determined.

Mr Jack, in his 30s, originally from Auckland but based in the US, was set to deliver a talk about hacking pacemakers and other wireless implantable medical devices, 3News reported.

He gained prominence in 2010 in Las Vegas when he demonstrated to audiences how to hack into the computer system of an ATM to force it to give up its cash.

Mr Jack used his knowledge to raise awareness of the weaknesses.

"If the ATM vendors are aware of the weaknesses, they can implement protection mechanisms,'' he told the New Zealand Herald in 2010.

He decided to investigate ATMs because "people see them as this impenetrable device, and no one had really looked at the underlying software".

The New Zealander taught himself the skills needed to become a hacking expert.

Mr Jack was the head of research at cybersecurity firm IOActive.

The company confirmed his death to 3News and said it would post a statement on their website.

Mr Jack was scheduled to speak on August 1 at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. The headline of his talk was, "Implantable Medical Devices: Hacking Humans," according to a synopsis on the Black Hat conference website.

He planned to reveal software that used a common transmitter to scan for and "interrogate" individual medical implants, the website said.

The conference said it will not replace Jack's talk, but instead leave the slot open so people can commemorate his life and work.

- APNZ

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