Hackers discover how to remotely change target and disable self-aiming sniper rifles

By midian182
Jul 30, 2015
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  1. Cybersecurity researchers Runa Sandvik and Michael Auger have discovered a design flaw that allows someone to take control of a TrackingPoint self-aiming sniper rifle. The husband and wife team found that the hack could allow a person to remotely point the rifle away from its intended target, permanently disable the scope’s computer, or even stop it from firing altogether.

    The $13,000 sniper rifles use the same advanced target-tracking technology found in drones, fighter jets, and other weapon systems. To date, more than a thousand customers have bought the weapon, attracted by the self-aiming technology which makes it easy for shooters to take wind, temperature, the weight of the bullet being fired and other variables into consideration when they’re aiming at a target.

    Sandvik and Auger found they could use vulnerabilities in the rifle’s software to take control of its self-aiming functions. The weapon has a Wi-Fi system which allows shooters to stream a video of their shot onto a laptop or iPad. According to Wired, when the Wi-Fi is enabled, the gun’s network has a default password that allows anyone within Wi-Fi range to connect to it. From there, a hacker can treat the gun as a server and access APIs to alter key variables in its targeting application. A networked attack on the rifle can’t make it fire, however.

    “You can make it lie constantly to the user so they’ll always miss their shot,” says Sandvik, a former developer for the anonymity software Tor. “If the scope is bricked, you have a six to seven thousand dollar computer you can’t use on top of a rifle that you still have to aim yourself.”

    The researchers plan to present the results of a year’s work on exploiting two of the rifles at the upcoming black hat conference in Las Vegas. TrackingPoint founder John McHale said his company is developing a software update to patch the rifle’s flaws, and was dismissive over the dangers the vulnerability posed.

    “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,” McHale said. “The probability of someone hiding nearby in the bush in Tanzania are very low.”

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  2. insect

    insect TS Evangelist Posts: 315   +114

    The most shocking part of this article is that the general population can purchase this as a hunting rifle.
  3. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,370   +2,161

    You don't know anything about guns, do you?
  4. Sniped_Ash

    Sniped_Ash TS Maniac Posts: 247   +103

    Literally LOL if you need a gun that aims for you. Get good, scrubs.
  5. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,370   +2,161

    To play devil's advocate, aimbot would be preferable for knuckle-headed and inexperienced hunters (I.e. the shooters who are willing to take a shot at an animal near the edge of a valley/top of a hill).

    That said, aimbot would take half the fun out of shooting. Cool tech, but I'll pass.
  6. insect

    insect TS Evangelist Posts: 315   +114

    I actually know quite a bit and have fired many types of weapons from black-powder to automatic, pistols, rifles, and shot-guns. I have not however fired an auto-aiming sniper rifle. I believe that auto-aim should be reserved for professional snipers are very long distances, not animal hunters or the general population as this is impractical for hunting and protection. What animal do you need to snipe from over half a mile away (other than humans in a military/police setting)?
  7. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 1,494   +668

    Regardless of the so called "auto" capabilities, I have never seen one of these units aim across a target area that includes a cold running stream, highly reflective sand base, with a varying wind that gusts. Every trained sniper knows these kinds of senerio and the fact is, no matter how precise the calculations are, when you squeeze the trigger there is no such thing as a sure shot. They will certainly cut down on the manual calculations and allow the shooter to get off more shots per minute but frankly, as every living sniper also knows, the wise old snipers rarely take more than one shot per location ......
  8. risc32

    risc32 TS Booster Posts: 186   +75

    I'm not going to say you don't know about guns. In thus format I don't see how I could really argue that, but I will say you don't know much about hunting. Most areas don't even allow shotguns to have more than the mandated number of shells let along a self aiming rifle.
    . Also, the fact that the manufacturer says how often are you going to be within wifi range while hunting, and like two headlines down the page they are talking about the facebook wifi drone bringing wifi to all sorts of places really is humorous. Haven't you heard , we're all clamoring for a wifi toaster, and facebook at the north pole.
  9. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,335   +1,936

    Maybe he's not an American, it seems to be in their DNA. I was in the South African Armed forces and shot everything from a 9mm pistols to 155mm artillery shells and everything in between for 10 years and yet I hate guns.
    Before you wonder why, I was conscripted for two years, three years voluntary completing my stint with the special forces and the last five I spent getting a university degree at the expense of the state.
  10. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,335   +1,936

    You can walk into your local corner gun shop and buy a .50 cal. Barrett sniper rifle complete with fancy scope, no questions asked??? Jeepers!!!
  11. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,370   +2,161

    Suggesting a weapon should be restricted to one class because it's impractical for another is more than a little arbitrary. If someone wants to buy more gun than they need, that's their decision.

    Can't speak for the Barrett, but most guns can be legally purchased here with no questions asked beyond a background check, though actual assault weapons (not sport rifles) and special equipment (silencers, etc.) may require special licensing and/or approval by law enforcement. But, as a general rule, if you don't have a criminal record you can buy whatever you want if the paperwork is in order.

    If legality isn't a concern you can buy them like candy from your local chapter of thugs, though.
  12. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,335   +1,936

    Over here it can take longer than a year to get a gun permit for a simple sidearm and if you have a police record, even one as minor as for jay walking, forget it. Some air rifles also require a permit as well, although, like anywhere else in the world, they can easily be acquired from your friendly neighborhood thugs or on the black market but just don't expect some brand new state of the art piece.
  13. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Maniac Posts: 932   +238

    As I understand it here in the US, the only thing you would need a background check for, aside from the aforementioned things like silencers, are pistols. In most places, you can pretty much buy any "long gun" without a background check.

    And if the NRA has their way, we will be returning to conditions not unlike the wild west. The NRA would like to see guns everywhere, and in fact, that is their solution to situations like theater shootings. I can just see it, a theater full of guns and some crazy walks in who does not give a cr^p about dying. In that theater, there will be one, maybe two experts with guns, and the rest of the people will kill each other out of stupidity.
  14. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,370   +2,161

    I think you've seen one too many movies if you think that outcome is even remotely plausible.
  15. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Maniac Posts: 932   +238

    I think the idea behind everyone having guns preventing an attack by someone with guns completely lacks the understanding of someone willing to commit suicide in an attack. To me, the NRA's idea seems based on assuming that those making an attack value their own life or life in general as much as most rational people do. If you have ever studied the suicide attacker mentality, they want to give their life for some reason or another, and no longer value it. This aspect of the suicide attacker mentality is well-known from scientifically based studies. This is the one flaw in the NRAs "give everyone a gun and let them carry it openly in every situation" that I do not believe the NRA understands in the least, and if it ever comes to pass, will surface at some point in time.

    I simply cannot see that a trip back to the future is going to resolve anything, I.e., wild west like days where most everyone carried and openly, and like I said, a bunch of untrained dolts carrying guns in a theater or even in a general situation where a suicide attacker is present will not solve the problem. In my opinion, the roots of the problem go to the very roots of what humanity calls "modern civilization" and, thus, far beyond 2nd amendment "rights."

    It is not people like, or so it would seem, you that I am worried about. It is the George Zimmerman's in the world who think that carrying a gun makes them a hero or gives them some sort of superpower.
  16. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,370   +2,161

    The problem with this statement is that it ignores completely the premise of the NRA's argument.

    The argument is that the presence of guns reduces the number of victims a killer can kill. You cannot stop suicidal maniacs from killing people. The only thing you can do is limit their ability to kill by arming potential victims. Ergo, an armed public is safer than an unarmed public (see: gun free zones). It is the difference between shooting fish in a barrel (which mass shooters demonstrably prefer) and playing Russian roulette.

    Arming people doesn't solve the problem of sucidal maniacs. It lowers the number of casualties they can cause when they snap.

    Explicate, if you would.

    The Zimmermans of the world don't think having a gun makes them a superhero. They think having a badge makes them a superhero. A far more problematic psychosis, if you ask me.
  17. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,335   +1,936

    It's probably the perception some people have of America, American violence is more in our news than our own violence. Everytime I look at our local news all I see is white cops blasting on black suspects, white supremacists running amok in churches, school kids offing teachers and each other etc.
    The same was true in our apartheid days when the rest of the world thought we used our black citizens for target practice and lions roamed free in our cities, nothing could've been further from the truth but let's face it, Americans generally tend love their guns.

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