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The good hacker: the wonderful life and strange death of Barnaby Jack
From: InfoSec News <alerts () infosecnews org>
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2014 11:55:04 +0000 (UTC)
By Donna Chisholm
March 18, 2014
From schoolboy dropout to world-famous hacker, Auckland-born Barnaby Jack
lived hard and died young. On the way, he changed the technological world.
The Jagermeister shot glasses are piling up along with the stories in the
outside bar of Galbraith's in Mt Eden Rd. It's a stormswept Sunday in
January, the six-month anniversary of the death of Barnaby Jack. A dozen
of his friends are here to remember him in a pub he loved.
Tonight, to them, he's "Barnes", their mate, not Barnaby Jack, the man the
world knew as the elite hacker who could make ATM machines spew money,
insulin pumps inject a lethal dose and heart pacemakers explode at a
single command from a laptop -- all stunts he pulled not to make trouble,
or money, but to make the technology safer and more secure. In the
infamously geeky community of computer hackers, Barnaby Jack was a rock
star. The man who could party all night and brush his teeth in the carpark
on the way to a flawless presentation at 9am.
It’s the first time they've gathered since the publication of an American
medical examiner's report on January 4 put months of bullshit internet
conspiracy theories to rest. How the mad stories flourished in that
charged atmosphere after the suicide just months before of activist and
fellow hacker Aaron Swartz, and the car-crash death of investigative
journalist Michael Hastings.
But, no, Barnaby Jack wasn't murdered to derail the presentation of his
latest research. And no, government officials hadn't spirited him away to
work on secret projects. The truth was ineffably sadder. On a Thursday
afternoon, alone in bed in his comfortable top-floor apartment, opposite
The Ritz in San Francisco’s Nob Hill, Barnes died of an accidental
overdose of heroin, cocaine and prescription medicines.
There are no judgments here among his friends who gather under a fug of
cigarette smoke on the old wooden bench seats outside Galbraith's, where
Barnes used to sit. The stories about him are warm and funny, to be told
with a drink, about a guy who loved a drink. Many drinks. A guy who, when
asked if he wanted another, would reply, "We’re not here to fuck spiders."
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- The good hacker: the wonderful life and strange death of Barnaby Jack InfoSec News (Mar 27)