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Computer hacker Barnaby Jack, 36, dies

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barnaby Jack, a computer-security professional with a showman's flair for demonstrating technical weaknesses in ATMs and medical devices, has died. He was 36.

He died in San Francisco, where he lived, according to the city's medical examiner. No further details were given.

Jack was director of embedded device security at IOActive Inc., a security consulting firm with offices in Seattle and London. He was known for attention-grabbing hacking demonstrations that made him a sought-after presenter at computer-security conferences.

In 2010, he showed how he could break into ATM machines and make them spit out cash, a stunt he performed live on stage at the annual Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas.

Last year, he showed a security flaw in an insulin pump that allowed him to hack the device from as far as 300 feet away, forcing it to dispense the hormone. Jack used a see-through mannequin's torso, blood-colored liquid and a handheld antenna.

"We certainly don't want people to lose faith in these devices," Jack said this month. "But certainly any threats, no matter how minor, need to be eliminated."

He had another presentation planned for next week at Black Hat, one of the security industry's top venues for researchers. Jack described how he was planning to show that he could scan a range of up to 30 feet for a certain model of pacemaker and defibrillator -- he didn't say which one -- override the software running on it and send high-voltage shocks to the device, shorting out its circuitry.

"Everyone would agree that the life and work of Barnaby Jack are legendary and irreplaceable," said Trey Ford, general manager of Black Hat.

Ford said Jack was able to make complex technology understandable to nontechnical people. Jack also worked with the Food and Drug Administration and medical-device makers to close the security holes he found.

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