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Author: Ahmed Bilal
Hackers are everywhere and with the recent update into a web connected and smart lifestyle the opportunities are even greater from a hackers point of view. This can be a major problem for most of us and this is exactly why Fiat Chrysler recalled around 1.4 million of its vehicles, the alleged fear was that the cars could be controlled by hackers from any corner of the world, they could control the brakes, kill the transmission, change the climate of the car, the stereo can also be controlled along with partial control of the steering wheel. This can be a nuisance for everyone.
Now use extra caution when using smart rifles
Tracking Point Precision Guided Firearms are now facing the same problem because they can be remotely hacked as they operate on Android system and also support Wi-Fi, giving hackers the perfect access route to them. The rifles can be controlled according to requirement, targets can be change which can end up in a disaster, the gun can also be shut down by disabling the firing capabilities remotely, and this would not be a good thing if you’re surrounded. These rifles can make unprofessional shooters into world class marksmen and hackers can do the exact opposite when they are meddling.
Runa Sandvik and Michael Auger, a hacking couple, have been trying to figure out since one year how to exploit these vulnerabilities for which they will present their work in the next hacking conference. When hacking the programmers can only control the targets that the rifles make but they don’t have the ability to shoot because for that purpose trigger needs to be pressed. TrackingPoint rifles are designed not to fire unless the trigger is pulled manually. The hackers also need a Wi-Fi support and should be close enough to the rifle in order to make changes to the aim.
According to Sandvik “There are so many things with the Internet attached to them: cars, fridges, coffee machines, and now guns”. He said “There’s a message here for TrackingPoint and other companies…when you put technology on items that haven’t had it before, you run into security challenges you haven’t thought about before.”
He also pointed out that the Wi-Fi range of the hack would limit its real-world use. “It’s highly unlikely when a hunter is on a ranch in Texas, or on the plains of the Serengeti in Africa, that there’s a Wi-Fi internet connection,” he says. “The probability of someone hiding nearby in the bush in Tanzania is very low.”
John McHale the founder of Tracking Point told Wired about the research of Sandvik and Auger and appreciated the work done by the couple, the work will enable the company to overcome the vulnerabilities exploited by the hackers and will help make better smart rifles for the future. After the work is done it will be sent to all customers in a USB drive.
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