Def Con hacker demonstrates that John Deere tractors can run Doom.
Doom can run on anything from a cardboard box to a Roomba and even a single keyboard key, according to the internet, but now we can add a John Deere tractor to that list. Sick Codes, a security researcher, collaborated with Doom modder Skelegant to get the game running on a John Deere tractor display and demonstrated some gameplay at the Def Con hacking convention in Las Vegas.
Sick Codes provided a video showing how the game works as a transparent overlay on top of the John Deere user interface (UI). According to Sick Codes, the entire operation took months and required jailbreaking the Linux system used by the John Deere 4240 tractor. Naturally, this version of Doom has been altered to take place in a cornfield, where the player mows down foes with a tractor.
With epic just-in-time help by NZ based doom modder @Skelegant. She helped get this run using DeHacked Doom, since gzdoom was a mission. Together, we teamed up to make this happen. She is amazingly talented. pic.twitter.com/OfVDMvRhzR
— Sick.Codes (@sickcodes) August 14, 2022
Sick Codes, on the other hand, isn’t only about jailbreaking tractors so they can run Doom. He also designed and presented a new jailbreak that gave him root access to the tractor’s system, according to Wired. This attack could potentially assist farmers in bypassing software limitations that prohibit them from repairing the tractor manually, something John Deere has previously been chastised for.
According to Wired, Sick Codes obtained “1.5 GB worth of records” that dealers could use to discover and diagnose issues. He did, however, discover a method to acquire root access by soldering controllers straight to the tractor’s circuit board. Unfortunately, without the proper tools, attaining root access is difficult, although Sick Codes informed Wired that “it would be conceivable to design a tool based on the vulnerabilities to more quickly perform the jailbreak.”
The technical grip that John Deere has over its tractors extends beyond blocking maintenance. John Deere electronically locked its equipment earlier this year after Russians stole it from a farm in Ukraine, and it has done the same on Chinese building sites to comply with the country’s finance laws. In response to mounting political pressure, John Deere launched March an endeavor to make its software available to independent repair shops.