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BA Deere
Honored Advisor

Ukrainian software to hack your Johnny Popper

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/why-american-farmers-are-hacking-their-tractors-with-ukra...

 

 

 
 

A dive into the thriving black market of John Deere tractor hacking.

To avoid the draconian locks that John Deere puts on the tractors they buy, farmers throughout America's heartland have started hacking their equipment with firmware that's cracked in Eastern Europe and traded on invite-only, paid online forums.

"When crunch time comes and we break down, chances are we don't have time to wait for a dealership employee to show up and fix it," Danny Kluthe, a hog farmer in Nebraska, told his state legislature earlier this month. "Most all the new equipment [requires] a download [to fix]."

he nightmare scenario, and a fear I heard expressed over and over again in talking with farmers, is that John Deere could remotely shut down a tractor and there wouldn't be anything a farmer could do about it.

"What you've got is technicians running around here with cracked Ukrainian John Deere software that they bought off the black market"

"You want to replace a transmission and you take it to an independent mechanic—he can put in the new transmission but the tractor can't drive out of the shop. Deere charges $230, plus $130 an hour for a technician to drive out and plug a connector into their USB port to authorize the part."

 

 

"There's software out there a guy can get his hands on if he looks for it," one farmer and repair mechanic in Nebraska who uses cracked John Deere software told me. "I'm not a big business or anything, but let's say you've got a guy here who has a tractor and something goes wrong with it—the nearest dealership is 40 miles away, but you've got me or a diesel shop a mile away. The only way we can fix things is illegally, which is what's holding back free enterprise more than anything and hampers a farmer's ability to get stuff done, too."

 

 

 

Among the programs I saw being traded:

John Deere Service Advisor: A diagnostic program used by John Deere technicians that recalibrate tractors and can diagnose broken parts. "It can program payloads into different controllers. It can calibrate injectors, turbo, engine hours and all kinds of fun stuff," someone familiar with the software told me. 

 

Also for sale (or free download) on the forums are license key generators, speed-limit modifiers, and reverse-engineered cables that allow you to connect a tractor to a computer. These programs are also for sale on several sketchy-looking websites that are hosted in Europe, and on YouTube there are demos of the software in operation.

 

 

"Are we supposed to throw the tractor in the garbage, or what?"

It's no surprise, then, that John Deere started requiring farmers to sign licensing agreements around the time the exemption went into effect. Violation of the agreement would be considered a breach of contract rather than a federal copyright violation, meaning John Deere would have to sue its own customers if it wants the contract to be enforced. I asked John Deere specifically about the fact that a software black market has cropped up for its tractors, but the company instead said that there are no repair problems for John Deere customer

 
 
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6 Replies
JimMeade
Veteran Advisor

Re: Ukrainian software to hack your Johnny Popper

Interesting legal and moral questions.  One could say John Deere has no right to hold a tractor for ransom.  One could also say if you don't like Deere's buy something else.  Hmmm.

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sw363535
Honored Advisor

Re: Ukrainian software to hack your Johnny Popper

question is what did you buy?  or did you just pay rent to use Deere's equipment....  

 

If the software is crucial to the operation of the tractor, what did you buy if you did not get the ownership of the software?

 

Expensive scrap iron?

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sw363535
Honored Advisor

Re: Ukrainian software to hack your Johnny Popper

There is a legal battle brewing here just as soon as it can be molded into a class action suit.

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SWMN native
Contributor

Re: Ukrainian software to hack your Johnny Popper

Pretty simple really,

 

Hack away.  It's your tractor, If they don't like what you're doing to their software, they can have it back.

 

Seems to be a market for aftermarket ECUs.

 

What about buying used?  Do we need to play their stupid legal games and have your cousin buy the new John Deere, drive it out to your place, and sell it used to you for the same money with one hour on it?

 

Now, you bought it used, didn't sign the contract with the dealer.

 

I hope that this Ukrainian software is not really written in Ukraine.  Hate to think American ingenuity has declined so much that we can't even hack our own tractors.

JimMeade
Veteran Advisor

Re: Ukrainian software to hack your Johnny Popper

Deere says it's a safety issue.  They won't stand behind a tractor that has been modified.

My understanding is you can not disconnect the recording devices on a commercial truck.  So there are at least some rules that say you have to work with what you have.

You can always by a McCormick.

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knudsenmads82
Friend

Re: Ukrainian software to hack your Johnny Popper

In this world, the best hackers can create harm to anyone. There are some tips to protect your data from them. These are some simple yet essential tips to prevent hacking. Keep your device, software, operating system, and apps updated with the latest versions. Never share your login credentials, one-time passwords (OTP), or other account-related information with anyone. Don't use public Wi-Fi. If this Ukrainian software tries to do something like that, I am sure the government will stop it as fast as possible. Be safe and learn how to protect your personal information. I hope my post will help you!

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