ATM manufacturer pays respects to hacker who broke into its systems

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Aug 9, 2013

Both Barnaby Jack and Triton showed how white-hat hacking should be done.

A tribute to the late Barnaby Jack by the company whose systems he hacked shows how hackers can really help make the world a safer place.

When New Zealand hacker Barnaby Jack suddendly died last month, the Internet was awash with tributes to the man probably best known for the "jackpotting" attack on ATMs he demonstrated at the Black Hat conference in 2010. The tributes demonstrated that Jack, who was due to speak at Black Hat this year on hacking pacemakers, was both loved an respected in the security community. His sister wrote the touching words "I was always so proud. Seems I'm not the only one."

Yesterday, I spotted another tribute, by Henry Schwarz of Triton. Triton produces ATMs - the very machines whose security Jack demonstrated wasn't up to date.

Many in Triton's position would have ignored or denied the problem, and perhaps even attempted to prevent Jack from speaking about the hack (as happened recently to researchers who had broken security codes in expensive cars). Instead, Triton did what was the only right thing to do: the company reached out to Jack and worked with him on improving the security of its systems.

Jack, too, could have made the wrong decision: it doesn't require much imagination to understand how his ATM-hacking skills could easily have made him a lot of money. But he informed the ATM vendors about the attack, worked with them to solve the issues, and delayed a presentation about it until after a patch had been rolled out. He even decided not to disclose the how-to of the attack.

It isn't always easy to explain to the general public how white-hat hackers, when they go on stage and demonstrate what to most people looks like a clear criminal act, really help make the world a safer place. Perhaps we should tell them the story of Barnaby Jack and Triton.

Schwarz finishes his tribute by writing "Barnaby and I started as adversaries and ended as friends. Our heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones." We, of course, share that sentiment.

Posted on 9 August 2013 by Martijn Grooten

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