sniper rifle hacked

Image: DVIDSHUB, CC BY 2.0

A husband and wife team skilled in hacking computer security have recently put their skills on display by hacking the computer system of a Linux-powered sniper rifle.

Security researchers Runa Sandvik and husband Michal Auger have been researching the $13,000 TrackingPoint self-aiming sniper rifles for over a year now. After developing their hack, the team used the sniper rifle’s wifi-connection to leverage an attack on the underlying computer software that powered the guns targeting system. The husband and wife duo was successful in not only compromising the small computer system sitting on top of the gun, but they were also capable of completely redirecting the guns aim towards a completely different target.  According to WIRED magazine, the couple’s specially crafted exploit “changes variables in the gun’s scope calculations that make the rifle inexplicably miss it’s target” (WIRED, 2015)

The TrackingPoint rifle is equipped with computer powered scope that allows the shooter to “designate a target, dial in variables like wind, temperature, and enter the weight of the ammunition about to be fired.” Once scope has these variables loaded in, the shooter can then pull the trigger and from here, the computerized sniper rifle takes over, carefully selecting the exact moment to fire. The gun is so equipped that it will only activate its firing pin “when it’s barrel is perfectly oriented to hit the target”. According to the security researchers, the person firing the gun don’t even have to be a good aim, at all, because the gun will do it for you: “A weapon that can allow even a gun novice to reliably hit targets from as far as a mile away.”(WIRED, 2015) By compromising the gun’s “self-aiming system” via the wifi connection, the couple was able to do things like permanently disable the scopeís computer and even prevent the gun from firing at all.

The researchers presented their findings at the most recent Black Hack Computer Security conference  and to Tracking Point company. When the founder of Tracking Point, John McHale learned of the rifles flaws, he stated that he appreciated the researcher’s discovering the vulnerability. The company is addressing the issue with a software patch that will be provided to customers on a USB as soon as it is released.

Read the full article here on WIRED.



Image: DVIDSHUB,  CC BY 2.0