February 23, 2024

Canada wants to ban hacking tools like Flipper Zero

As part of a broader effort to curb car theft, Canada also wants to make devices like the Pinball Zero unauthorized. Developed primarily as a pentest tool, the gadget can be used to copy radio signals from vehicle keys, in addition to a variety of other functions.

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In one Notice The Canadian government named the pinball machine, and Economy Minister Fran├žois-Philippe Champagne named the device. In a post According to Risk Champagne on the X platform, the “import, sale and use” of these “hacking devices for consumers” should be banned in the future. It is not clear from any of the Canadian government's statements where the implicit distinction should lie between devices for end users or professional security researchers.

One factor against activity against devices like pinball machines is that clips often appear on video sites showing a car being stolen using the device. The pinball machine can only unlock the car under certain circumstances. Flipper can't overcome an immobilization or extended keyless go system, though there are other devices for that – but they're much bigger, more complicated to operate, and more expensive than Flipper Zero.

Alex Gulagin, developer of Xero, thinks so A conversation with Gizmodo: “These videos show clickbait or old vehicles.” According to its description, the device can only unlock vehicles manufactured before the year 2000. According to Gulag, the pinball machine was designed to test security systems and during development it was ensured that the device could not be used for “malicious purposes”.

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This general statement may be a bit of an exaggeration because, for example, Bluetooth DoS attacks on smartphones, which the pinball machine made possible even with the original firmware until recently, can be very harmful. In addition, there is now a lively ecosystem of third-party developers and applications for the pinball machine, but there is currently no evidence that the device is intended for car theft – and not just for unlocking vehicles.


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