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Hackers crack a smart sniper, change its target

The Tracking Point company is known by its smart snipers with advanced aim systems, which allow even the unskilled to shoot like pros.

The sniper system relies on a wireless connection and works on Linux. Up until today, these smart rifles were considered as means of absolute domination in a potential warzone, and something enemies should fear.

However, according to Wired, security experts Runa Sandvik (used to work on Tor) and Michael Auger managed to hack the Tracking Point TP 750 sniper. They have managed to remotely jam the rifle, change her target and re-route it in the moment it shot.

The attack was done thanks to vulnerabilities in the software used inside the rifle, which costs $13,000 (£8,340).

To make things more interesting, some of the failures are banal – the network capabilities of the rifle were protected by a default password, which gave the attackers easy root access to its system.

A skilled hacker can use the rifle’s API to change its parameters in relation to aiming and firing.

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

Sandvik and Auger have decided to talk more about this discovery at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas.

Given TrackingPoint’s financial straits, Sandvik and Auger say they won’t release the full code for their exploit for fear that the company won’t have the manpower to fix its software, Wired says. And with only a thousand vulnerable rifles in consumers’ hands and the hack’s limited range, it may be unlikely that anyone will actually be victimized by the attack.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.