- Lennert Wouters said he was able to hack into Starlink using $25 worth of off-the-shelf material.
- The hack was performed as a part of SpaceX’s bug bounty program.
- SpaceX congratulated Wouters on his achievement, which he presented at a conference on Wednesday.
Security researcher Lennert Wouters said it cost him only $25 to build a device that could hack into Starlink’s satellite internet service.
“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 said in a press release.
SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment from Insider.
Wouters, a researcher based out of Belgian university KU Leuven, revealed the security breakdown at a computer security conference in Las Vegas earlier this week.
On Wednesday, he showed attendees a modchip, also known as a homemade circuit board, that he built to hack into Starlink, Wired reported. The modchip was built using parts that could easily be bought off-the-shelf for around $25 and would attach directly to a Starlink dish, according to the publication.
The device would allow hackers to run code on the Starlink devices and access the entire network, as well as parts of the system that were previously inaccessible, Wouters said. The researcher has made the plans for his modchip available to the public on GitHub.
Wouters performed the hack as a part of SpaceX’s program which pays researchers for finding bugs in Starlink’s service. On Wednesday, SpaceX congratulated Wouters for the discovery and said it had issued an update to its software.
—Christopher Stanley (@cstanley) August 11, 2022
Though, Wouters told Wired Starlink will remain vulnerable to the hack until SpaceX creates a new version of the main chip in the terminals.
A Starlink hack could quickly become a matter of international security. Earlier this year, Ukraine’s military began using Starlink terminals after Russia allegedly hacked into the country’s previous satellite provider. On Monday, the US Air Force announced it was making plans to use Starlink.
Starlink currently has a userbase of over 400,000 subscribers across the globe. The company recently received approval from the Federal Communications Commission to beam its service to moving cars, boats, and airplanes.
The company has a network of over 2,500 satellite in Earth’s lower orbit. The service is designed to deliver high-speed internet of up to 100 Mbps to 200 Mbps to customers in rural areas.
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