Legendary security researcher Dan Kaminsky died of complications stemming from a long battle with diabetes, his niece said on Twitter. His family spoke out about his cause of death in response to social media rumors, Kaminsky’s niece wrote on in a tweet on Sunday, April 25, 2021. Kaminsky died at the age of 42 on April 23 in California.
Kaminsky’s niece, Sarah, wrote on Twitter, “It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my uncle, Daniel Kaminsky. While his passing was sudden and unexpected for us, Dan struggled for years with diabetes and was even recently hospitalized because of it. This tragedy has nothing to do with COVID-19 vaccination and unfortunately everything to do with diabetic ketoacidosis.”
Speculation about Kaminsky’s death spread on social media after some anti-vaccine promoters learned he had received his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on March 22 at the Moscone Center South COVID-19 Vaccine Site in San Francisco. Kaminsky posted on Twitter about receiving the shot and then posted again on April 12 about receiving his second dose.
Anti-vaxxer conspiracy theorists have started unfounded theories about people, often younger people and/or those with a public profile, who have died unexpectedly with their causes of death not shared publicly, The Daily Beast reports.
Kaminsky’s sudden death rattled the infosec community after it was first reported on April 24. The Bay Area-based security researcher was best known for his work uncovering a flaw in Domain Name System (DNS) protocol, according to Decipher, and he was a popular speaker at hacker conferences. Kaminsky was the chief scientist and founder of White Ops and the former director of penetration training at IOActive, according to his LinkedIn profile. He graduated from Santa Clara University in 2002.
Kaminsky’s Niece Wrote on Twitter: ‘I Think Dan Would Laugh at the Idea of Conspiracy Theorists Promoting Anti-Vax Propaganda Through His Deaht’
Kaminsky’s niece wrote on Twitter, “I think Dan would laugh at the idea of conspiracy theorists promoting anti-vax propaganda through his death, but as his family, it hurts us to see his death being used to spread is about a vaccine that he had full faith in.”
She added, “But like Dan always said to me, they’re all just noise. So I am going to take his advice, ignore the trolls and respectfully ask the internet community to please give my family peace and privacy as we try to navigate a world without Daniel.”
Kaminsky praised the science behind the Pfizer vaccine he received a month before his death, writing on Twitter about the other ways it could be used, “mRNA is a wild new tool to now have. We haven’t *had* anything very effective against respiratory before, and it’s a huge killer. The flu shot will probably work now. We probably just cured the common cold.” Kaminsky tweeted often about the importance of being vaccinated and how the vaccine rollout has gone.
But Kaminsky’s posts about receiving the COVID-19 vaccination shot made him and his family a target of internet sleuths who are hunting for vaccine-related deaths. The Daily Beast wrote that since the vaccines were first used there have been, “a small but vocal group of skeptics and conspiracy theorists, baselessly convinced that the jabs were lethal, started hunting for dead people. At first their efforts were relatively small-bore and haphazard—although far from innocuous. But as the scale and sophistication of America’s vaccine rollout have exponentially ramped up over the last three months, so have efforts to hunt down alleged vaccine fatalities.”
Kaminsky’s niece responded to the conspiracy theories about her uncle after a prominent vaccine skeptic, former New York Times writer and frequent Fox News guest Alex Berenson tweeted, “So another well-known person in his forties – not a true celebrity, but someone with a sizable Twitter following – “died suddenly” Friday. No cause of death given, and his family wants privacy. These cases have popped with disturbing frequency since December. … Look, I don’t want to turn on the firehose on this guy’s family at a very difficult time, so I didn’t want to go into this. But this person publicly reported being vaccinated; six days later his tweets abruptly stopped and less than a week that after his death was reported.”
Tributes to Kaminsky Have Poured in on Social Media From Those in the Security Research Community: ‘One of the Brightest Lights in Infosec & Probably the Kindest Soul I Knew’
Along with the conspiracy theories, tributes to Kaminsky have poured in on social media. Fellow security researcher Marc Rogers said on Twitter on April 24, “I guess there’s no hiding it now. We lost @dakami yesterday. One of the brightest lights in infosec and probably the kindest soul I knew. The vacuum he leaves behind is impossible to measure. Please keep speculation to yourself and be respectful of his family and friends.”
Rogers added on April 25, “People speculating that @dakami died as a result of the vaccine. Please STOP. Let me be clear: It had NOTHING to do with the vaccine. Have some respect and stop using our grief to spread misinformation.”
Technologist Matt Devost tweeted, “No one that knew Dan Kaminsky well is talking about DNS today. They are talking about kindness, boundless energy and positivity, spontaneous adventures, and how hard he worked to lift others up. Want to emulate one of the greatest hackers of all time? Let that be your guide.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation tweeted, “We join with the many, many people in the infosec community and beyond who are today mourning the loss of Dan Kaminsky (@dakami). Dan was a friend of freedom, and the embodiment of the true hacker spirit. Rest in peace.”
Rob Rhyne tweeted, “Dan Kaminsky once found a flaw in DNS that would have basically destroyed the internet and helped fix it in secret. Doesn’t get any more legendary than that. RIP.”
The Def Con hacking conference added, “Dan Kaminsky’s passion, creativity, desire to learn and teach really help influence both #defcon and @BlackHatEvents in the early years. He became an icon in all the positive ways and we look up to him. RIP Hacker.” Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich tweeted, “Saddened at the loss of @dakami. He was incredibly smart and incredibly nice.”
Kaminsky’s niece said on Twitter, “My family and I appreciate your kind words, stories and memories of Dan. It has been remarkable to see the number of people he has impacted. He was such a light in this world. Please feel free to share on this thread, we are all reading your responses as they come in. Thank you”
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