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Famous hacker Barnaby Jack's death ruled a drug overdose

Barnaby Jack (Credit: IOActive/Facebook)
Barnaby Jack (Credit: IOActive/Facebook)

The San Francisco medical examiner's office has ruled that the sudden death of the well-known hacker Barnaby Jack at the age of 36 was due to an accidental overdose from combining heroin, cocaine, Xanax, and Benadryl.

Jack was an ingenious programmer from New Zealand best known for making an ATM spit out bills and figuring out how to wirelessly hack into medical devices, including a pacemaker and an insulin pump. He was scheduled to give a talk on the latter last year at the security conference Black Hat, where hackers present their exploits in order to make the public aware of cybersecurity vulnerabilities. His talk was one of the most anticipated at the convention, but he died six days before he was supposed to give it, on July 25th of last year.

Because of his prominence in the hacker community, there were conspiracy theories that he had been assassinated by the government or one of the medical companies whose products he'd hacked. Others wondered if he was the latest victim in the community to succumb to depression.

Jack's famous ATM hack.

Instead, it now appears that Jack's death was a tragic accident. According to an autopsy report obtained by The Verge, Jack had a history of abusing opiates, cocaine, and Xanax. His girlfriend found him lying in bed unresponsive, amid bottles of beer, champagne, and e-cigarettes. He seemed fine when she spoke to him earlier in the day and they had dinner plans, she told police.

Jack was widely mourned in the security community. His Black Hat talk was not replaced; instead, the hour was left "to commemorate his life and work." A memorial was also held for him at Def Con, the annual hacker convention that takes place after Black Hat.