Shocker! You Can Hack Smart Guns–With Magnets!

The Armatix IP1 is the world’s first commercially produced “smart gun,” an electronically controlled pistol. And surprise, surprise, it can be hacked. Actually, you might be impressed on how easily one hacker was able to overcome the pistol’s lockout systems.

A smart gun is a personalized firearm. Without the right authorization, the gun won’t fire. In the case of the IP1, the gun only works when the shooter is wearing a special wristwatch. Unless you hack it, of course.

One of the ways smart guns authenticate known users is with wireless electronics. These electronics vary in quality from simple RFID systems like the ones used in security tags to more robust rolling code remotes similar to car alarms.

Critics of these systems have frequently pointed out that wireless systems can be pretty easily interfered with. That’s exactly where hacker “Plore” started with the IP1.

After locating the broadcasting system built into the the IP1, Plore was able to pinpoint the broadcasting frequency of the gun’s watch detection system. With about $20 in parts, he was able to copy and boost the signal out to over 10 feet away, well outside the watch’s personal range.

Plore also succeeded at completely jamming the watch with simple breadboard electronics. He created a transmitter that runs at the same frequency as the watch and pistol which completely broke the gun and watch.

Ultimately he was able to completely bypass the security system with a few magnets. After studying the pistol’s locking mechanism Plore discovered what appears to be a simple firing pin safety.

See Also: Armatix Plans 9mm ‘Smart Gun’ Over New and Old Concerns

“So essentially with $15 worth of magnets, I cracked the $1.500 smart gun.” By using magnets he was able to disengage the safety and shoot the IP1 without the watch or any other electronics.

The microcontroller inside the grip frame of the pistol controls the firing pin safety with an electromagnet. “When we squeeze the grip and pull the trigger halfway,” Plore said, “the magnet is activated.”

“However, when you take a really big external magnet that can stand in for the electrical magnet, it doesn’t matter if the gun is authorized to fire. It doesn’t even matter if the gun has batteries in it,” he added.

It would be even simpler to take out the firing pin safety altogether, forever removing the complicated electronic security system.

Safeties like these can always be messed with, altered and completely circumvented. It’s not that the quality of the electronics is in question. There isn’t a foundation for this type of security to stand on.

Still, we expect to see companies continue to promote this sort of technology as a proxy for gun control. If that’s enough to keep companies like Armatix in business, there will always be new smart guns to buy — and to hack.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Jeff July 31, 2017, 11:05 pm

    Problem is the government or rouge criminals will be able to basically UN-ARM you and anyone else
    whenever they want you. No different than almost every car on the market. They can simply shut your engine down via satellite signal with services like ONSTAR, They have proven that when police have ask them too. The same will happen with theses guns. When the government wishes to outlaw guns all they will have to do is hit a single button to deactivate all weapons to create a public that will not be able to fight back.

  • Alan July 31, 2017, 3:19 pm

    I’ve been harping for years for more ‘magnet control’ laws, it’s getting out of hand.
    I can barely get my Frig door open!!!!!!!

  • Chris Jones July 29, 2017, 10:26 am

    I’m against these being required, and obviously this article proves this tech has a long way to go, but for personal use none of the above hacks are an issue. Is the average mugger or home invader going to jam your gun? If you lose the gun in a fight and he ends up with it, will he have set up an extender? Or be carrying magnets on him? This article is mostly showing why these guns are useless for security, Federal Agents and Armed Forces (the only ones likely to come up on someone willing to plan an attack ahead). Granted, if you are worried about the government deactivating your guns then you definitely don’t want one.

  • Wendy July 28, 2017, 3:02 pm

    Hmmmm……does that mean all those gun safes with RFID can be opened with a strong magnet also??

    • lone gunman July 28, 2017, 11:35 pm

      where have you been, go on you tube there are several videos of how to open a safe with a magnet been around for years.

  • Joe July 28, 2017, 12:34 pm

    I vote we rename them “Not so smart guns”

  • dave July 28, 2017, 12:28 pm

    Good News! I’ll add it to my list of things that are OK to steal from the overlords and their minions when tha NWO takes over.

    • RayJN July 28, 2017, 6:31 pm

      Also get the plans for the jammer so they can’t fire their guns.

  • Ram6 July 28, 2017, 8:58 am

    This is technology which basically accepts the premise that the government is allowed to restrict our 2nd amendment rights. Avoid this at all costs. Once they get this accepted they will move to the next step, and next step, until they have taken away our firearms.

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend