This weekend, I watched a hacker jailbreak a John Deere tractor live on stage

Cory Doctorow, drawing together years of links and observations on John Deere’s shady monopolistic technology practices, describes a Defcon hacker (Sickcodes) jailbreaking a tractor controller.

So to recap: the company says it has to block farmers from having the final say over their own tractors because they could create security risks and also threaten Deere’s copyrights (the company even claims that locking down tractors is necessary to preventing music infringement, as though a farmer would spend $600k on a tractor so they could streamrip Spotify tracks).

But in reality, the company itself is a dumpster-fire of information security worst practices, whose unpatched, badly configured, out-of-date tractors are a bonanza of vulnerabilities and unforced errors. What’s more, the company – which claims to be staunch defenders of copyright – use their copyright locks to hide the fact that they are committing serious breaches of software copyright.

6:33 pm on August 15, 2022