You may have stumbled across the Flipper Zero hacking device that’s been doing the rounds. The Russia-based company claims it is on track to sell $80 million worth of ’em this year after selling almost $5 million worth as Kickstarter preorders — and it claims it sold $25 million worth of the devices last year.
So what are they selling? Flipper Zero is a “portable gamified multi-tool” aimed at everyone with an interest in cybersecurity, whether as a penetration tester, curious nerd or student — or with more nefarious purposes. The tool includes a bunch of ways to manipulate the world around you, including wireless devices (think garage openers), RFID card systems, remote keyless systems, key fobs, entry to barriers, etc. Basically, you can program it to emulate a bunch of different lock systems.
The system really works, too — I’m not much of a hacker, but I’ve been able to open garages, activate elevators and open other locking systems that should be way beyond my hacking skill level. On the one hand, it’s an interesting toy to experiment with, which highlights how insecure much of the world around us actually is. On the other hand, I’m curious if it’s a great idea to have 300,000+ hacking devices out in the wild that make it easy to capture car key signals and gate openers and then use them to open said apertures (including Tesla charge ports, for some bizarre reason).
My limit to how much I’ve been able to play with it has been pretty simple: The device wants a software update, but I’m too paranoid to plug any USB device into my computer at the best of times. A Russian device that is literally made for hacking? Yeah, that’s only going into an air-gapped computer, and I haven’t got one of those to spare.
I can only imagine it’s been a challenging journey to build this startup while there’s a war and a ton of sanctions going on — but the company has found a way around that. It said in an Instagram post that “Current events will not affect the Flipper Zero production in any way, and all ordered devices will be shipped to backers and those who have pre-ordered, though there may be delays for customers from the CIS countries [the Commonwealth of Independent States] due to logistics disruptions in the region.”
As a company, Flipper Devices made a statement that its team “consists of both Ukrainians and Russians,” and speaks out, saying it is “radically against the ongoing ‘special military operation’ and none of our team members support it.”