Canada Moves to Ban the Flipper Zero Over Car Hacking Fears

I told you. It appears that the government of Canada is going to ban the Flipper Zero, the tiny, modular hacking device that’s become popular with techies for its deviant digital powers. On Thursday, following a summit that focused on “the growing challenge of auto theft in Canada,” the country’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry posted a statement on X, saying “Criminals have been using sophisticated tools to steal cars…Today, I announced we are banning the importation, sale and use of consumer hacking devices, like flippers, used to commit these crimes.”

In a press release issued on Thursday, the Canadian government confirmed that it will be pursuing “all avenues to ban devices used to steal vehicles by copying the wireless signals for remote keyless entry, such as the Flipper Zero.”

The Flipper, which is technically a penetration testing device, has been controversial due to its ability to hack droves of smart products. Alex Kulagin, the COO of Flipper Devices, said in a statement shared with Gizmodo that the device couldn’t be used to “hijack any car” and that certain circumstances would have to be met for it to happen:

“Flipper Zero can’t be used to hijack any car, specifically the ones produced after the 1990s, since their security systems have rolling codes. Also, it’d require actively blocking the signal from the owner to catch the original signal, which Flipper Zero’s hardware is incapable of doing. Flipper Zero is intended for security testing and development and we have taken necessary precautions to ensure the device can’t be used for nefarious purposes”

Many videos online claim to show cars being manipulated or unlocked via the Flipper. YouTubers and TikTokers have uploaded videos where they appear to hack vehicles’ key fobs quite easily using the device. Kulagin said that many of “these videos are either engagement baits or showcase very old vehicles” and that even “if you’d be able to record the signal and open it, Flipper can’t turn on the car. And for any modern vehicle with rolling codes, it’s practically useless.”

Even if the Flipper isn’t considered a culprit in Canada’s car theft woes, it should be pointed out that hacking modern cars is notoriously easy. Major car manufacturers’ cybersecurity is terrible, and it seems difficult to imagine that banning the Flipper will make any serious dent in their security problems.

The Flipper has already been banned in Brazil and Amazon banned sales of the device on its platform last year. We previously predicted that the Flipper would face additional bans. Lo and behold, this seems to be a big one. Members of the tech community voiced their displeasure on X after the news about the ban began to circulate online Friday morning.

“Dude that’s not the solution. The car company needs to address the security of their products. Sincerely, Cyber security experts everywhere,” one X user, whose bio mentions infosec, posted.

“You can use screwdrivers to steal cars too,” another user posted, sarcastically.

“If you knew anything about technology you would know the flipper and others are just simple ARM processors with basic sensors attached,” said another user. “Nothing ground breaking this will not stop a thing but makes it look like your doing something. The trick of politicians everywhere and it is why people are fed up of you as everything else just crumbles.”

Another user merely posted:

Gizmodo reached out to the government of Canada. We will update this story if they respond.

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