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SpaceX’s Starlink hacked with $25 hacking tool

A Belgian researcher has created a $25 hacking tool that could cause a glitch to Starlink’s internet terminals.

user iconReporter
Fri, 12 Aug 2022
SpaceX’s Starlink hacked with $25 hacking tool
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At the Black Hat Security Conference in Las Vegas, US this week, Lennert Wouters, a security researcher at KU Leuven, demonstrated how he was able to hack into Elon Musk's satellite dishes. According to Wired, Wouters is reportedly going to make the tool available for others to copy.

Wouters outlined the hardware vulnerabilities that allowed him to access the Starlink satellite terminal at the conference on Wednesday, which enabled him to create his own custom code during his presentation

"The widespread availability of Starlink User Terminals (UT) exposes them to hardware hackers and opens the door for an attacker to freely explore the network," Wouters stated on the briefing description.

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Starlink customers get a 19-inch wide "Dishy McFlatface" to install on their homes or carry with them on the road. Dishy McFlatface is designed to communicate with SpaceX's 3,009 satellites that form a mega constellation in low-Earth orbit that is aimed to beam down connectivity to the most distant parts of the world.

According to Wired, the Starlink dish can be hacked with Wouters' modchip, or a custom circuit board that can be attached to the satellite dish. The modchip was built using off-the-shelf parts that cost about $25 in total according to Wouters, who has reportedly made the details of the modchip available for download on Github.

The small device can then be used to access McFlatface's software, launching an attack that causes a glitch and opens up previously locked parts of the Starlink system.

Wouters' attack results in an unfixable compromise of the Starlink user terminal, creating an opportunity to execute arbitrary code.

"The ability to obtain root access on the Starlink [user terminal] is a prerequisite to freely explore the Starlink network," Wouters stated.

[Related: ACCC permits proposed Google LLC acquisition of Mandiant]

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