“Smart Gun” Advocates: Hacks are a “Nuisance”

Just ask Jackie Mason: timing is everything. Or you could ask the participants at the Smart Gun & Law Enforcement Symposium. They had the great misfortune of gathering to promote “smart guns” just days after a hacker named “Plore” disabled an Armatix IP1 with $15 worth of magnets.

Did the “smart gun” geniuses acknowledge the hacking problem and promise to make their firearms inviolable?

According to cnet.com:

At the symposium, two smart-gun makers played down the threat of hacks against the connected weapons, calling it a “nuisance” but not a roadblock.

Jonathan Mossberg, the man behind the smart iGun, said the attacks Plore demonstrated were unlikely to happen in real-life scenarios, pointing out that people don’t carry magnets with them everywhere.

Plore disagreed, saying there’d be more magnets available if smart guns were more mainstream.

If there were a bunch of smart guns out there, there might be a reason for criminals to carry magnets,” the hacker said in a phone interview. “It’s a failure of imagination to see the potential downfalls of an insecure system.”

Or you could say it’s a triumph of hubris to downplay the very real — now proven — threat of outside interference with a “smart gun’s” operating system. And not just by hackers or professional criminals. By the government.

“Ernst Mauch, who led the team that designed the IP1, acknowledged that the smart gun he helped design was hacked by simple magnets and said he’s looking to have more-robust security for his futuristic firearms. He said that though hackers breaking into smart guns weren’t a “significant challenge,” gun makers shouldn’t be relaxed when it comes to security.

For future projects, Mauch said, he’ll be inviting hackers to crack firearm safety features, in the same way companies like Tesla offer cash bounties to any hackers who can find flaws with their products.

“We learned our lesson with the IP1,” Mauch said.

Really? I tell you what might be “smart”: a mechanically-operated firearm with no electronic systems that can fail or be hacked. I have a few of those if Herr Mauch or his colleagues are interested in seeing how they work.

comments

  1. avatar RCC says:

    My wife’s credit card being hacked earlier this year is a nuisance. Not being able to use gun at critical time is life threatening. I’ll stay with regular firearms.

    Maybe research keeping criminals in jail or something useful.

    1. avatar Norincojay says:

      When this smart gun gets hacked it’s default is to work. So hacking it with the magnets allows the gun to be operated by someone other than the owner.

      1. avatar California Richard says:

        Sooooo…. if you get the gun away from the rfid wristwatch, then the gun will work? What does “work by default” mean exactly?

      2. avatar John in TX (Was CT) says:

        You’re factually wrong. The gun’s default is not to work, and it’s only by physically pulling the fire control group into the correct position with magnets that it’s forced to work.

        In the absence of any signal, with a jammed signal, and probably even if the batteries are dead, the firearm will not function, because it relies on the power being provided by the batteries to physically move the fire control group into firing position.

        1. avatar johnny108 says:

          Smart Guns!
          When the battery dies- so do you!

        2. avatar Nick says:

          This^.

          The “smart” gun in question uses an electromagnet to move a small piece of metal inside the gun, allowing it to be fired like a normal gun. This is why the magnets were able to interfere with it, they moved that small piece of metal. This is also why when the batteries die, you’re screwed. No power means that little electromagnet can’t operate.

  2. avatar Frank says:

    I’m not worried about hacks. I am terrified about the government, turning my gun off. The NSA can turn our “smart” phones on, what makes you think they can not turn your “smart” gun off so you can not use it?

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “…what makes you think they can not turn your “smart” gun off so you can not use it?”

      The Fed turning it off concerns me, but what concerns me more are criminals turning my gun off to prey on me with impunity in a parking garage late at night…

    2. avatar Big Bill says:

      BART, a government transportation agency in the Bay Area, has used cell phone jammers in the last. This is supposed to be illegal, even for governmental agencies.
      But, we all know (or should know, by now) that the government doesn’t need to follow the law.
      This means that the government, if it feels the need, will, without a doubt, disable any and all ‘smart guns’ it can, in an “emergency.”
      ‘Smart Guns’ are just another method of taking away our guns.

  3. avatar John in TX (Was CT) says:

    It’s really telling that they’re more worried about the gun functioning when the trigger is pressed than they are about it not doing so.

  4. avatar TrueBornSonofLiberty says:

    Exactly why I’ve said that the hacker should’ve kept his filthy mouth shut until it was too late for the manufacturer to go back to the drawing board. They could’ve wasted 10’s of millions and built factories and started releasing production models before the hack was released. Their only recourse then would’ve been bankruptcy.

    1. avatar California Richard says:

      Dont worry. The system is so fundamentally flawed that it will never work properly for the price point/reliability goals they are setting. This gun will be limited to government markets where 1) they dont care about the lives of their cops/soldiers 2) they have the money to purchase the units and fix the inevitable problems inherent to “work guns” which get beat the f*** up 3) cities which are “progressive” and “conscientious about the devastating impact guns have on families”. So basically San Francisco. And then the company will go bankrupt and San Francisco will be stuck with millions of dollars worth of useless bricks.

    2. avatar The Duke says:

      Like every smart gun project in the past this small vulnerability will permanently taint the name. So telling everyone now makes further investment by anyone outside the company a guaranteed waste with almost zero chance of ROI.

      Hell even Colt who introduced a, by all accounts, pretty decent gun in the 90’s (made by CZ IIRC) used it in an add for a new smart gun. That ad actually killed the dumb gun too just because it had that smart gun stink all over it

      Future outside investment is virtually dead and the company and gun are now forever tainted by a simple magnet

  5. avatar Ralph says:

    A truly “smart gun” would travel around all by itself shooting politicians.

    1. avatar Chris T in KY says:

      +1

    2. avatar Stinkeye says:

      I guess until that technology is developed, we’ll just have to rely on Bernie Sanders supporters to do that.

  6. avatar Jim Bullopck says:

    You first.

    That’s the only answer when they want to impose, remove, require, track or ban something on regular folks, for our own good. “You first.” Shocking how many good ideas to do to us, for our own good of course, suddenly become not so good when they who would do to must also be done to the same.

    1. avatar What About Bob says:

      Very well said. I may borrow this.

      1. avatar Jim Bullock says:

        Borrow away.

        It would be even more impressive if I could type my own name right.

    2. avatar doesky2 says:

      “You first” wasn’t done with Obamacare and of coarse Congress critters and their staffers don’t have to live by the laws that they forced on everyone else.

  7. avatar DaveL says:

    The jamming issue is not a mere speed bump. It’s a problem baked into any RFID smart gun system, to some degree or other. There are techniques, like frequency hopping, that can make it more resistant to jamming, but in the end you’re limited by the small size available for your power source and the length of time it has to operate.

    1. avatar 16V says:

      Thanks for understanding the tech It’s unfortunate that people don’t know how easy it is to defeat an RFID…

    2. avatar Big Bill says:

      My auto burglar alarm uses a form of frequency hopping, as do garage door openers. The power supplies are actually pretty decent, and would last years, given how seldom police actually have to use their guns.
      The problem such people (like government agencies who would have to use these guns) don’t yet understand isn’t how easy it is to make one work, is how easy it is to make one not work.
      Any enterprising criminal can get (he wouldn’t need to actually make one, just like he doesn’t need to make a gun) a jammer that would disable any LEO’s smart gun that relied on a RF signal to fire.
      The rather obvious solution to this problem, once understood, is that LEOs wouldn’t be the ones to use these guns, but “civilians” would be the ‘targeted’ demographic for sales.
      And, of course, we can depend on our government to not use any jamming technologies to disable our guns.

  8. avatar Rimfire says:

    Jon Mossberg of the shotgun company family?? That’s low Jon..
    Last post from me until this shitty login stuff is fixed. Enough is enough, now THAT is a nuisance

    1. avatar Big Bill says:

      I have one word for you: Dashlane.

  9. avatar rt66paul says:

    Just make magnets illegal, then no one would have them to hack “smart” guns.

    (SARC)

    1. avatar 16V says:

      I get the /sarc, but you do have the vision to realize that magnets would (somehow) become a ‘controlled substance’, no?

  10. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    These people forget one critical thing; The gun industry tends to move in years to decades while the technology industry moves much, much faster. If they think they can make an “unhackable” gun they are morons. These magnets are readily available if you know where to look for minimal to no cost. I have a pile of them from hard disks. It may not be magnets (please cue Insane Clown Posse memes here) but some other form of anything. In the end there still has to be a small pin hitting a primer or something similar.

    1. avatar Huntmaster says:

      Hard drives, loudspeakers, microwaves, DC motors, proximity switches, microphones, ladies handbags and on and on and on. Magnets are ubiquitous. At my place of employment we are required to wear a name tag. You position the name tag on the outside of your garment and then slip a plastic plate (with three affixed magnets) onto the back side of the garment to hold it in place. I don’t know what world Jonathan Mossberg lives in but there are probably close to a dozen magnets within reach right now without even getting out of my chair.

  11. avatar James Ivy says:

    REMOVE THE FIRING PIN PLUNGER SAFETY! I’m not a genius gunsmith but I know even non mechanical people can Google the crap outta anything problem not solved with these guns, by problem I mean people.

    1. avatar doesky2 says:

      I would bet that 90% of people who think smart guns are a good idea wrongly believe that a stolen smart gun would not be able to be used by criminals. If they knew that every conceived smart gun could be bypassed with 5 minutes of YouTube tutorials most of the supporters would realize that in fact the smart guns are pretty stupid.

  12. avatar John Gancho says:

    Just because they haven’t made a good one yet doesn’t mean they won’t. When it runs perfect, it will have a strong market.

    1. avatar Other Tom in Oregon says:

      It will never be perfect. As someone develops tech to secure things someone else is always developing tech to tear down what the first guy built.

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      John,

      There are problems with smart guns that are insurmountable:
      (1) People who steel the gun and then have hours to defeat the “smart” feature will succeed every time.
      (2) Attackers who render the smart feature “deaf” will make the firearm immediately inoperable for legitimate users.
      (3) All possible default function during failures are REALLY BAD.

      That last item is the real deal killer. What should the default function be if there is a system failure? If the default function is for the firearm to be operable, then jamming/hacking/battery/chip failure defeats the system and allows illegitimate users to fire. If the default function is for the firearm to be inoperable, then jamming/hacking/battery/chip failure defeats the firearm and prohibits the legitimate user from firing when they need to fire. Neither outcome is acceptable. Thus the system is not acceptable.

      1. avatar John Gancho says:

        If I were a betting man, I’d wager you thought anti lock brakes would never match a good drivers breaking ability. I’ll give it to you that they are nowhere near a product that I would want yet (and I don’t think I would ever want one anyways) and they have some big hurdles in front of them. But, whoever figures it out first, will retire early. A big segment of the market wants something like this. It will be a reality this decade.

        1. avatar kenneth says:

          Way to avoid the logic and common sense that was just brought up. Ignore everything and launch a personal attack. Straight out of the disinfo handbook(number 5, attack the messenger: “Sidetrack opponents with name calling and ridicule. This is also known as the primary attack the messenger ploy”):
          https://vigilantcitizen.com/latestnews/the-25-rules-of-disinformation/
          Instead, why not focus on the insanity of a proposal that always fails, whether its default mode is to WORK, or to NOT work?
          Assuming of course, that sanity is in your agenda….

        2. avatar kenneth says:

          “whoever figures it out first, will retire early. ”
          But kudos for working in a subtle little appeal to the reader’s greed. That’s not in the manual. Nice little bit of creativity there…
          Congrats

        3. avatar Huntmaster says:

          “A big segment of the market wants something like this. It will be a reality this decade”. Is that so? There doesn’t seem to be a lot of demand for them on this self selected list of gun buffs! You’re either a troll or you haven’t been paying attention.

    3. avatar DaveL says:

      As there will no doubt be a strong market for the water bottle that fills itself within a couple hours, the artificial gills rebreather, any number of perpetual motion machines, etc.

      1. avatar kenneth says:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ub9R7aawNyI
        etc. etc. etc….
        “Fools and their money are soon parted”- somebody
        ‘Smart’ guns are in this same category. An idea that people will throw fortunes(of other people’s money, naturally) at, until they finally wake up to the stupidity of it.

    4. avatar Big Bill says:

      “Just because they haven’t made a good one yet doesn’t mean they won’t.”
      We have been around for a very long time.
      Things such as knives have been around almost as long. People still break them, and cut themselves on them accidentally.
      Maybe sometime someone will come up with a good one (knife, that is).
      Given how long it has taken for a simple thing like a knife (which still doesn’t work all the time as intended), I would imagine it will be a few thousand years for the ‘smart gun’ to be perfected.

  13. avatar MarkD says:

    Obviously these fools have never heard of “THE FAST HOLSTER – SUPER MAGNET” or similar products check them out at the glockstore.com or Ebay. For these narrow minded stupid think PIT to be so limited of a mind to think that such a simple “HACK” won’t be the criminal mind set from the start shows just how little they know about the real world. Will this stop them from ever working? Will this make them safe the government kill switches? Will the “stupid think PIT” ever get exposed to the real world?

  14. avatar Joseph says:

    I will never give up my dumb guns and will never buy a smart gun.

  15. avatar Kenneth G Maiden says:

    The writing is on the WALL. Warning, the day will come when “SMART GUNS” will become mandatory. Maybe only in commie states like Cali or NY, to start.

  16. avatar Geoff says:

    I don’t think it will ever be a problem as 99.99% of us will not pay $1400 for a .22 pistol, much less a “smart” gun.
    A few stupid gun owning Liberals and Democrats might, but that would be the minority.

  17. avatar Ted Unlis says:

    This entire “smart gun” proposition is nothing more than the latest Trojan Horse constructed by liberals to subvert the 2nd amendment.

  18. avatar penis_is_a_social_construct says:

    Smart guns wouldn’t survive an EMP, would they?

  19. avatar skiff says:

    Criminals have been known to carry a handcuff key to circumvent locked handcuffs.

  20. avatar Mr.K says:

    I actually wrote Jonathan Mossberg a little over a year ago with some questions and concerns about hacking and was flat out called a “Troll” and basically told I was an idot for scuffing at “safety parts”. Then he went on and gave me a dob story about inner city cops getting disarmed and their guns used on them. F Jonathan Mossberg. I TOLD YOU SO!!

  21. avatar JimmyZ says:

    A “nusiance” is a weapon with a trigger pull I’m not comfortable, or sights that aren’t the best. This is far more than that. this is a killer flaw.

    I did hear that Sig is going to counter the smart gun movement. They’re going to start marketing 320’s in the opposite direction…as “dumb” guns…they’ll fire no matter what 🙂

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