Married Couple Plans to Hack Smart Rifles at Black Hat Conference

At this years Black Hat hacker conference, security researchers, Runa Sandvik and Michael Auger, will demonstrate how they are able to exploit the vulnerabilities of a self-targeting sniper rifle to change the scope’s variables when planning out a shot, and even bricking the rifle altogether.

Sandvik and Auger Plan to Hack a Pair of $13,000 TrackingPoint Rifles

Sandvik and Auger are a married hacker couple and have spent a year researching a way to hack into these smart rifles. The techniques allow a knowledgeable hacker to exploit its sight through Wi-Fi.

Once the rifle has been infected, a hacker can then use software to manipulate a scope’s calculations, disable the scope completely, or just prevent the gun from firing entirely. In a demonstration the couple did for WIRED, the two demonstrated how they were able to manipulate the targeting system to accurately hit a target that they chose rather than one chosen by the shooter.

“You can make it lie constantly to the user so they’ll always miss their shot,” said Sandvik.

Hackers Can Brick Smart Rifles Remotely

According to Sandvik, hackers can perform a number of different functions to disable a shooter’s weapon. An attacker can lock a user out, preventing them from using the smart rifle, or completely erase the gun’s file system. This would essentially render the scope useless, leaving the shooter to have to aim manually.

The file system in TrackingPoint’s self-aiming system is a vital part of the scope. The system allows a shooter to designate a target, which tells the computer to begin dialing in variables needed to make an accurate shot. It’s important to note that the gun will not fire until the shooter has pulled the trigger. Once the trigger is pulled, the gun will then determine when the best time to fire is and take the shot when the barrel is perfectly aligned.

TrackingPoint Are Already Working on an Upcoming Patch to Address the Exploit

Fortunately, Sandvik and Auger are working together with TrackingPoint in order to develop a software patch that will quickly address the severe vulnerability of smart rifles. While it’s not ready yet, TrackingPoint founder, John McHale, said the company would be mailing out a USB drive to customers in order to update their rifles as soon as possible.

“The shooter’s got to pull the rifle’s trigger, and the shooter is responsible for making sure it’s pointed in a safe direction. It’s my responsibility to make sure my scope is pointing where my gun is pointing,” said Hale in an interview.

The emergency of smart devices means many of these devices can be taken advantage of, but it’s good to see security researchers and developers working together to get these issues resolved as quickly as possible.


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