Black Hat: Late Barnaby Jack was to speak at show, instead his life and legacy remembered

Share this article:
The conference included many tributes for the security researcher who was 35 when he died last week.
The conference included many tributes for the security researcher who was 35 when he died last week.

Barnaby Jack, the brilliant security researcher who died last week at 35, was remembered throughout the recently concluded Black Hat conference, where he had been scheduled to present on vulnerabilities in pacemakers.

Jack, the director of embedded device security for services firm IOActive, was memorialized during the show at both private and public gatherings.

During the time slot he was scheduled to speak, a session room was kept open where attendees could congregate to remember the researcher. As well, photos of Jack scrolled on two big screens.

Friends and peers recalled his genius-like abilities to uncover vulnerabilities and write exploits, as well as his penchant for partying and orchestrating antics across the globe.

Marc Maiffret, the CTO of BeyondTrust who worked with the New Zealand-born Jack at eEye Digital Security roughly 10 years ago, said he embodied the hacker spirit because he was "curious about everything." Most recently, Jack was focused on medical device research because he wanted to help save lives.

"He had this brilliant sense of life," said Maiffret, who authored a widely shared tribute to Jack on Facebook recently.

Aside from his friends and close colleagues, many who didn't really know Jack, but nonetheless were touched by his work, came out to the memorial session to pay their respects.

Josep Albors, chief communications officer of security firm ESET, told SCMagazine.com that Jack was such an inspiration and asset to the security community because he presented his research in a way that was compelling and engaging for everyone, no matter their technical skill level. That made him better able to reach the mainstream public about the importance of his discoveries. He was a model for many.

"He was one of the biggest researchers," Albors said. "He was such an example for the research community, the way he presented,"

He may not have been a lover of the media, but Jack was an everyman, always welcoming of new people. Joaquin Rodriguez Varela, a malware lab coordinator at security firm ESET, recalled the only time he met Jack, at a speaker's party during the Ekoparty Security Conference in Buenos Aires. Varela spent a few minutes picking Jack's brain about his ATM research, then Jack challenged him to a game of pool.

Maiffret recalled a story where Jack befriended a group of tourists in Prague and, sensing they weren't have a good time at one bar, encouraged everyone to go sing karaoke. Jack set the mood by performing an awful rendition of a Blink 182 song, Maiffret recalled, and soon these "total strangers" were having the time of their lives.

"His legacy is not going to die with this," Varela said.

Jack was honored with a posthumous lifetime achievement award at the annual Pwnie Awards, held during Black Hat.

Share this article:
You must be a registered member of SC Magazine to post a comment.

Sign up to our newsletters

More in News

Reported breaches involving zero-day bug at JPMorgan Chase, other banks

Reported breaches involving zero-day bug at JPMorgan Chase, ...

Hackers exploited a zero-day vulnerability and gained access to sensitive information from JPMorgan Chase and at least four other financial institutions, reports indicate.

Data on 97K Bugzilla users posted online for about three months

During a migration of the testing server for test builds of Bugzilla software, data on about 97,000 Bugzilla users was inadvertently posted publicly online.

Chinese national had access to data on 5M Arizona drivers, possible breach ...

Although Lizhong Fan left the U.S. in 2007, the agencies responsible for giving him access to Americans' personal information have yet to disclose the details of the case to the public.