The big picture: Casual hackers love to attempt to mod odd hardware to run Doom. One Australian hacker used this pastime to prove that John Deere tractors lack proper security software. At the same time, he offered a glimmer of hope to farmers and mechanics who have been fighting an uphill battle against a company that’s hostile to DIY repairs.

Were humanity to ever destroy itself, one of the most interesting relics aliens would find would undoubtedly be the many different objects running a strange piece of software that involves killing hordes of demons to heavy metal riffs. There are already boatloads of devices never meant to run Doom but run it nevertheless. Thanks to “Sick Codes,” an Australian security expert, there’s yet another way to rip and tear for the would-be DoomGuys among us.

At DEF CON 2022 last week, he demonstrated how to take complete control of some John Deere farming equipment. He even took it a step further by doing what every demon slayer in their right mind would do — run the one classic game that pushed the entire first-person shooter industry forward and the existing hardware at the time into overdrive.

australian hacker devises jailbreak to run doom on john deere combines

Sick Codes says he spent several months working with numerous John Deere tractor models and eventually took control of a John Deere 4240 touchscreen console equipped with an Arm-based NXP I.MX 6 system-on-chip. This model runs Wind River Linux 8, but some of the other models he worked on were running Windows CE.

Technically, the hacker didn’t devise an exploit. Instead, he figured out a way to simply jailbreak the device. The touchscreen displays on John Deere tractors have fundamental security vulnerabilities, leaving them wide open to ransomware attacks. In other words, one can bypass the digital locks on these tractors, and from there, the possibilities are endless as you can run any software compiled for that platform.

To be clear, this isn’t entirely straightforward. It requires intimate knowledge of embedded electronics and operating systems. Sick Codes first found that it was possible to fool the system into rebooting in a different mode, which should only be accessible to an authorized dealership. This internal system allowed access to over 1.5 gigabytes of logs that service providers use to diagnose issues with the tractors.

Playing Doom on a John Deere tractor display (jailbroken/rooted) at @defcon pic.twitter.com/ih0QUTGNuS

— Sick.Codes (@sickcodes) August 14, 2022

The logs gave Sick Codes an idea of how to bypass system protections with some modifications to the controller board. It would also be possible to build a tool based on the vulnerabilities that would make the jailbreak much easier for the layman to run software with root access. Of course, Sick Codes demonstrated this by installing a custom installation of one of our favorite retro FPS courtesy of a New Zealand-based modder that goes by “Skelemom” on Twitter.

John Deere tractors are notorious for having locked-down software that prevents third-party or DIY repairs. Earlier this year, Russian troops stole $5 million worth of combines only to find they had been remotely disabled by the manufacturer. However, this jailbreak could offer farmers a way to repair their equipment without going through the expense and hassle of taking their tractors to an authorized dealer whenever repairs are needed.

“Sick Codes has jailbroken a John Deere, and this is just the beginning,” right-to-repair advocate and CEO of popular repair website iFixit Kyle Wiens notes. “Turns out our entire food system is built on outdated, unpatched Linux and Windows CE hardware with LTE modems.”

As for John Deere, the company officially maintains that it can’t trust farmers to fiddle with all this new-fangled equipment. Still, mounting public pressure has already forced the manufacturer to promise an “enhanced self-repair solution” so farmers can apply software patches without going to the dealer. The company set a tentative release window for 2023.

Masthead credit: Karl Wiggers

TECH NEWS RELATED

Red Dead Online Gets Spooky With New Hallows’ Call to Arms Locations, Halloween Pass 2’s Return, & More

While it’s no undead nightmare, Rockstar Games is still providing its Red Dead Online players with plenty of delightful frights this October, as the monthly update has just been revealed. This time around, you’ll be able to experience brand new Hallows’ Call to Arms locations, each of which will have ...

View more: Red Dead Online Gets Spooky With New Hallows’ Call to Arms Locations, Halloween Pass 2’s Return, & More

Logitech’s Mechanical Emoji Keyboard Is $10 Off Through Sunday

Logitech The mechanical keyboard on your desk isn’t just an extension of your hands to your PC; it’s a reflection of your personality. This week, you can grab one of the most charismatic options I’ve seen in awhile, the Logitech POP Keys Wireless Mechanical Keyboard with swappable emoji keys, ...

View more: Logitech’s Mechanical Emoji Keyboard Is $10 Off Through Sunday

How to Choose the Best Smart Thermostat for Your Home

Smart thermostats make managing the temperature in your home as simple as setting up a schedule on an app. From quickly adjusting the temperature while you’re away to using your voice to make a change, you no longer have to wake up and deal with a manual thermostat if ...

View more: How to Choose the Best Smart Thermostat for Your Home

Namecheap Slashes Domain Prices Through October 12th

Sharaf Maksumov/Shutterstock.com If you’ve been waiting to register a new .com domain name, now’s the time to take action. Namecheap is celebrating its 22nd birthday by offering up to 44% off the most popular domain registrations. Registering a new .com domain only costs $7.88 throughout the sale, down from ...

View more: Namecheap Slashes Domain Prices Through October 12th

Steam Deck has now sold over one million units

Despite hardware and production limitations, Valve's handheld device has surpassed the impressive milestone.

View more: Steam Deck has now sold over one million units

Tata Yodha 2.0- A Pickup with Highest Load-Carrying Capacity

Tata Motors recently introduced three new commercial pickup trucks to the Indian market: the Yodha 2.0, the Intra V20 bi-fuel, and the Intra V50. The pickup trucks have a new look and claim to have the highest load-carrying capacity, deck length, and range in the segment. However, if we specifically ...

View more: Tata Yodha 2.0- A Pickup with Highest Load-Carrying Capacity

Guilty Gear Strive Cross-Play Open Beta Begins October 13 On PlayStation And PC

The beta will be free to everyone, even those who don't own the game.

View more: Guilty Gear Strive Cross-Play Open Beta Begins October 13 On PlayStation And PC

PlayStation Investing More In Mobile And PC, But Traditional Single-Player Games Won't Be Forgotten

PlayStation Studios chief Hermen Hulst says that Sony won't abandon its roots while it expands onto other platforms.

View more: PlayStation Investing More In Mobile And PC, But Traditional Single-Player Games Won't Be Forgotten

European Union passes the law that forces Apple to switch to USB-C port by 2024

Death Stranding 2 Rumors Emerge Again, Reports Game Is Codenamed "Ocean"

Sony Teases Possible TV Shows And Movies Based On From Software Games

Goodbye, Lightning port? EU votes to make USB-C the charging standard by the end of 2024

TOPPING E30 II DAC + L30 II Amplifier Desktop Stack Review

Fortnite v22.10 Update Adds a Formidable Ranged Weapon & Unvaults a Fan-Favorite

Samsung Has a Plan to End the Chip Shortage

How to Connect a Laptop to a Monitor

HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 headset review

‘Deadstream’ Review (Shudder)

Apple Music passes 100 million song milestone

Valorant Patch 5.07 Delivers Huge Fracture Overhaul & Changes to Agent Flashes

OTHER TECH NEWS

Top Car News Car News