New jailbreak code for John Deere helps farmers with right to repair

A John Deere tractor at Gibson's Green Acres Dairy on February 16, 2018 in Ogden, Utah.

A John Deere tractor at Gibson’s Green Acres Dairy on February 16, 2018 in Ogden, Utah.
Image: Gene Sweeney Jr. (Getty Images)

A new jailbreak code for John Deere tractors was unveiled Saturday at the DefCon security conference in Las Vegas, is the latest tool in the right to repair movement’s struggle to make everything a little more sustainable and sustainable.

Farmers are used to fixing what is broken with their own two hands, but manufacturers have purposely put locks in tractor software to prevent unauthorized repairs. The company promised to simplify thingsbut didn’t bother until March of this year. But there was always an option: you could hack the tractors and bypass the security codes held only by dealers.

Expert hacker Sick Codes spoke about the vulnerabilities of John Deere tractor software at last year’s DefCon. After John Deere used his work to close some security loopholes, the response from farmers was less than positive, according to wired:

“The right to fix side was a little bit opposite of what I was trying to do,” he tells WIRED. “I heard from some farmers; a man emailed me and said, ‘You’re ruining all our stuff!’ So I thought I’d put my money where my mouth is and actually prove to farmers that they can root the devices.

This year, Sick Codes says that while he is primarily concerned about global food security and the exposure caused by vulnerable farm equipment, he also sees significant value in having farmers fully audit their own equipment. “Free the tractors!” he says.

[…]

“Farmers prefer the older equipment simply because they want reliability. They don’t want things to go wrong in the most important part of the year when they have to get things out of the ground,” says Sick Codes. “So we should all want that too. We want farmers to be able to fix their stuff in case something goes wrong, and that now means they can fix or make decisions about the software in their tractors.”

Since Sick Codes first released its research on the tractors in 2021, the right-to-repair movement has also won many victories, such as wired be aware:

After years of controversy in the US over the ‘right to repair’ of the equipment one buys, the movement seems to have reached a turning point. The White House has a executive order last year instructed the Federal Trade Commission to: increase enforcement efforts about practices such as voiding warranties for outside repairs. That, in combination with New York State beyond its own right to repair and creative activist pressurehas generated unprecedented momentum for the movement

Click through to wired to get the full story, including how Sick Codes hacked the whole thing

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