Since it debuted several years back, tech enthusiasts have been deeply in love with the Flipper Zero. The tiny penetration testing device makes hacking anything fun and easy, and at $170, it’s not exactly what you’d call a heavy financial lift. Yet while amateur hackers may be having a field day with it, the Flipper also seems to be causing more than a little anxiety for police and the corporate sphere. You can sorta imagine that, at some point, someone is going to complain loudly in an attempt to grind everybody’s fun to a screeching halt.
The amount of enjoyment that can be derived from the Flipper is readily apparent if you’ve ever scrolled through the deluge of online videos associated with it. There, users can be seen enthusiastically hacking everything in their path, from their own cars, to smart home devices to TVs and cell phones and even traffic lights. The device’s mischievous powers were greatly enhanced in July when Flipper made the decision to launch its own app store; the store, which is embedded right inside the tool’s mobile app, offers various open source plug-and-play software features that give users the ability to choose from a veritable treasure trove of automated exploits.
As it stands, it seems like a new target for the Flipper’s mischief is identified every week. Case in point: This week, it became apparent that the device could be used to remotely spam (and, in some cases, lock up) Android and Microsoft devices using a Bluetooth-aided attack. That attack is actually a variation on a similar one that was previously revealed that, via a firmware modification, can be used to target and crash iPhones. Again, the device seems capable of causing trouble for even the most prominent of platforms and companies.
Predictably, not everybody is thrilled with the Flipper’s capacity for digital mayhem. Some have argued that it just makes hacking too easy—that it lowers the barrier of digital penetration to the point where even folks with very limited know-how can now pwn every device in sight; other critics, meanwhile, argue that it’s a tool that will undoubtedly be used (mostly) to break the law. Earlier this year, Amazon officially banned the sale of the device on its platform, arguing that it could be used as a credit card skimmer.
Law enforcement, too, seems to have been keeping a watchful eye on the device. In August, The Daily Dot reported that a police fusion center in South Dakota was circulating a warning to other intel and police agencies that the Flipper could be used by domestic extremists to hack energy grids. In recent years, shipments of the Flipper have also been seized by police in multiple countries, including the U.S. and Brazil. In Brazil, the crackdown on the Flipper appears to have been notably more severe—amounting to an effective ban. This policy shift stirred online speculation as to whether other countries might issue similar bans against the device. While a U.S. crackdown of this sort seems highly, highly unlikely, it’s still worth pondering whether the tool could stir up regulatory concerns at some point in the future.
In short: I’d recommend getting a Flipper Zero before it’s too late. Sure, there’s no official ban yet, but, eh…you never know. Whenever something is this much fun, it’s only a matter of time until someone tries to take it away.
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