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HomeUncategorizedElon Musk's Starlink satellites hacked by $25 homemade device

Elon Musk's Starlink satellites hacked by $25 homemade device

A security researcher has disclosed a $25 hacking tool that appears to compromise Starlink’s internet terminals.

As reported by Wired and Gizmodo, Lennert Wouters, who works at the University of Leuven in Belgium, showed how to penetrate a satellite dish at the Black Hat Security Conference.

A Starlink dish next to an RV.

For reference, Starlink was founded by Elon Musk to provide internet connectivity around the world. By putting 3,000 satellites into orbit, the company has attracted more than 500,000 users. However, due to various hardware vulnerabilities, Wouters have now found a way to hack into the cutlery. If exposed, this would give threat actors free access to Starlink’s systems and then run custom code on network devices. To find any bugs in the satellite dish software, Wouters bought an antenna and connected his hacking device to it. The tool itself is formed from a custom circuit board (modchip), and the overall parts required for the device are only $25. Homemade printed circuit boards (PCBs) were then able to short-circuit the system, albeit temporarily, through a fault injection attack – a method or fault used to circumvent the security measures already in place by Starlink. Wouters released the tool on GitHub after revealing the hack in his talk, detailing how to execute the attack itself. Starlink was informed of the security flaw by Wouters himself last year and even paid researchers through a bug bounty program. Although parent company SpaceX patched the bug at the time — prompting Wouters to modify the modchip — it doesn’t seem like the core issue can be solved without producing a new model of the main chip. Therefore, he said that every user terminal associated with Starlink is currently exposed. Starlink has confirmed that public updates are in the works, but Wouters stressed that the company’s operational nature would expose them in any way. “The widespread availability of Starlink User Terminals (UTs) exposes them to hardware hackers and opens the door for attackers to freely explore the network,” he said.

“Our attack rendered Starlink [user terminal] beyond repair and allowed us to execute arbitrary code,” he continued. “Being able to gain root access on Starlink [user terminal] is a prerequisite for free exploration of the Starlink network.” Wouters also owns another hack for Elon Musk’s company experience with this product — he created hardware that unlocks a Tesla electric car in 90 seconds.

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