The Top 10 White-Hat Hacks

By Jordan Robertson - 2014-07-23T01:49:30Z

Photograph by Isaac Brekken/AP Photo

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A Diabetic Who Provoked Diabetics' Wrath

Jay Radcliffe vaulted into the headlines in 2011 when he showed how insulin pumps could be hacked to administer potentially fatal doses of the life-saving medication.

A diabetic himself, Radcliffe expected to be hailed by other diabetics for helping improve their security. Instead, he was vilified for betraying the community and increasing their safety risks.

The response showed the risk that some white hats face in venturing into new hacking territory. But it wasn't all negative: his talk triggered calls from Congress for an investigation into the security of Internet-connected health devices, and a Government Accountability Office report called on the Food and Drug Administration to better identify security problems in electronic medical equipment. Radcliffe's research came at the same time that Barnaby Jack was also hacking insulin pumps.

Even before their published research, such risks were taken seriously at the highest levels of the U.S. government. Former Vice President Dick Cheney said last year that he had the wireless capabilities of a pacemaker disabled before it was implanted in 2007 to reduce the risk of it being used in an assassination attempt.