Watch: Researcher hacking, unlocking a smart gun with $15 magnets

A $1500 smart gun developed with the main objective of reducing gun crime has an inherent security flaw, which is so huge that even $15 magnets can expose it. This smart gun model called Armatix IP1 allows the owner to open fire only if the company’s smartwatch near by the gun.

However, the presence of such a huge flaw that could be detected so casually by a cheap device highlights for the umpteenth time the hazards of connecting devices to the internet. We have been hearing time and again that internet connected devices lack the most important element, security and this revelation only re-confirms this notion once again.

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Armatix IP1 is the latest to join the ever-growing list of smart guns. Previously we have been introduced to smart guns that shoot after verifying the owner’s fingerprint. However, Armatix IP1 is different because it shoots only when it is within the range of the smartwatch.

However, a hacker using the alias Plore demonstrated how IP1 could be hacked using a cheap $20 radio equipment and even cheaper magnets. Plore researched on identifying ways to exploit the flaw in IP1 for six months and so far he has found three different ways to crack the gun.

He connected the gun with the watch through short-range radio; every time the trigger was squeezed, the radio transmitter device acted as a relay and extended the gun’s range by over 12 feet more. This meant anyone else wearing the smartwatch could use it.

Plore also identified another security flaw that was even riskier because it allowed an attacker to bypass the gun’s safety mechanism easily. When the smartwatch was taken apart, Plore managed to find the component that turned the green light one notifying the gun to shoot.

The gun’s electromagnet system that was used to unlock the firing pin of the gun was also replicated without any difficulty using $15 magnets. The task was achieved by placing the magnets near the gun.

While speaking with Wired, Plore explained: “I almost didn’t believe it had actually worked. I had to fire it again. And that’s how I found out for $15 of materials you can defeat the security of this $1,500 smart gun.”

Plore then used a relatively similar transmitter to emit radio waves of the frequency same as the smart gun and smartwatch. This resulted in jamming the device completely hinting on the fact that it was possible to disarm the person using Armatix IP1.

This has raised eyebrows because a smart gun is bought and owned for the sole purpose of enhancing security. However, the presence of such easily exploitable security flaws is certainly disappointing and demotivating.

In its defense, Armatix stated that although the flaws are real but won’t be so easy to pull off since people never carry magnets around. It seems like the company hasn’t yet realized the dangers associated if someone steals the gun that contains security flaws of such magnitude.

Watch how he did it

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Waqas

Waqas Amir is a Milan-based cybersecurity journalist with a passion for covering latest happenings in cyber security and tech world. In addition to being the founder of this website, Waqas is also into gaming, reading and investigative journalism.