Video: TrackingPoint Smart Rifle Hacked
Russ Chastain 08.05.15
By now, most of us gungy types know about TrackingPoint, the company that offers a high-tech, high-dollar technologically advanced long-range rifle system that pretty much aims itself. Find your target in the scope, “mark” it, and TrackingPoint does the rest.
Unless it’s been hacked, that is.
A husband-and-wife hacking team has managed to manipulate the rifle’s computer via Wi-Fi and tell it lies–lies that it will never reveal to the person shooting the rifle. Runa Sandvik and Michael Auger went to work and found that the possibilities for mischief are many.
You can make it lie constantly to the user so they’ll always miss their shot.
In a recent Wired article, Sandvik said it was also possible to wipe out the TrackingPoint’s computer files, effectively turning the high-dollar scope into a non-functioning “brick.”
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.
And because the firing pin is controlled by a computer-controlled solenoid instead of a traditional sear, these hackers can lock it up, rendering the gun itself completely useless.
In the video, the proper function of the TrackingPoint system is demonstrated, and then they show their work. By manipulating data such as bullet weight, wind speed, and the like, they can place shots inches or even feet away from the pre-selected point of aim.
The TrackingPoint system must have other quirks than hacking vulnerabilities:
Sandvik and Auger haven’t figured out why, but they’ve observed that higher ammunition weights aim a shot to the left, while lower or negative values aim it to the right. So on Auger’s next shot, Sandvik’s change of that single number in the rifle’s software made the bullet fly 2.5-feet to the left, bullseyeing an entirely different target.
Thankfully, the one thing the hackers couldn’t do was to fire the rifle without physical input, in the form of a trigger pull. But they could conceivably cause a sniper to kill someone other than his intended target.
TrackingPoint’s company founder responded gratefully to news of the hackers’ research, and said he plans to work with them to plug the holes in his software. Once developed, he says a software patch will be sent to owners of TrackingPoint firearms.
The Wired article suggests, though, that the company may be in dire straits and therefore unable to develop a usable patch. For that reason, the hacker couple plan to keep the code a secret.
Unless, I suppose, they get hacked…