Lenert Wouters, a cybersecurity expert at KU Leuven, successfully hacked into the Starlink dish by adding a homemade circuit board. In this way he was able to gain insight into the operation of Elon Musk’s satellite system intended to make the Internet available worldwide. This is what the company calls this achievement.
We don’t usually realize it, but 3,000 Starlink satellites orbit 547 kilometers overhead. Developed by billionaire Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s SpaceX program, the network aims to bring the internet far and wide.
The service is still fully up. In February, Elon Musk announced that he had about 10,000 subscribers “in the United States and abroad”. pays a one-time €639. This is relatively expensive in countries with generally good internet coverage, but it could be a solution in areas where this is less the case.
Heat gun, cleaning alcohol, and patience
One of those dishes was at the University of Leuven, and more specifically, on the desk of computer scientist Lenert Wouters, a cybersecurity expert. He managed to hack into the system using his homemade device for just €25.
Armed with a heat gun and rubbing alcohol, and with “a lot of patience,” he managed to open the saucer, he told Wired. He then connected a home-made printed circuit board with numerous computer chips. So he managed to check the boot system.
Or rather, the system automatically went through it at startup, bypassing the security protocol that connects the antenna you have at home to the Starlink system. He did it by inserting a controlled glitch (a short circuit, so to speak) into the boot process.
In this way Wouters was able to study the Starlink system. According to him, it is impossible to shut down a satellite or affect the entire Starlink system.
This is a technically impressive attack and, to our knowledge, we believe to be the first of its kind on our system.
Still, Wouters believes conducting this kind of investigation is important to prevent badly-intentioned hackers from breaking into a system and successfully shutting it down, he told Wired. “This is critical infrastructure,” he says Wouters. “That’s why it’s important to make sure it’s safe.”
congratulations from starlink
Wouters has changed the way we work public Other researchers and hackers can also start their own Starlink dishes on the internet platform GitHub. He also spoke about his research at the Black Hat Cybersecurity Conference in Las Vegas.
Starlink itself reacted positively to Wouters’ performance. Also, he was paid for reporting the issue publicly.
“We would like to congratulate Lenert Wouters for his security research on Starlink user terminals,” the company said in a statement. statement Distributed by Starlink after the Black Hat conference. “This is a technically impressive attack and, to our knowledge, the first of its kind on our system.”
Starlink assures owners of Starlink antennas that hackers cannot access other antennas or satellite networks. It also said it has performed software updates that should close security holes.