Science & Tech

Terrifyingly, hackers have figured out how to remotely control rifles

Giving a gun a mind of its own by attaching a computer to it might not seem like the safest of ideas. And now a husband-and-wife team have proven that its possible to hack the technology in smart rifles to change their targets or disable the weapon completely.

Runa Sandvik and Michael Auger spent more than a year tinkering with $13,000 TrackingPoint smart rifles to manipulate the software via the gun's wi-fi connection.

They figured out how to make the gun obey the hacker's targeting commands, how to make it miss by tampering with ballistic calculations and the scope, and how to stop it working altogether.

Thankfully, since the rifles are designed to be have the trigger pulled manually, they couldn't make the gun fire at will. And while the couple claim they can install malware into the rifle's systems, any hacks are still reliant on nearby wi-fi, which is unlikely to be plentiful in the depths of a forest or on the plains of the Serengeti.

In an interview with Wired, Sandvik said:

You can make [the gun] lie constantly to the user so they’ll always miss their shot... 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.

TrackingPoint founder John McHale told Wired that the company will work with Sandvik and Auger on a software update to patch the possible security flaws.

Still. Maybe humanity should have stuck with sticks and stones.

More: Meet the scientist who wants to teach you how to 'hack' your home

More: Ashley Madison, the affair matchmaking website, has been hacked

The Conversation (0)