Canada to ban Flipper Zero!

On Thursday, the Canadian government said it has intention to “pursue all avenues to ban devices used to steal vehicles by copying the wireless signals for remote keyless entry, such as the Flipper Zero, which would allow for the removal of those devices from the Canadian marketplace through collaboration with law enforcement agencies.”

Funny, isn’t it? The Canadian government seems to not have any security expert to consult with. They don’t seem to understand how does the device works and don’t even understand how secure cars have been specially those produced since 1990s.

This attack requires a high-power transceiver that’s not capable with the Flipper Zero. These attacks are carried out using pricy off-the-shelf equipment and modifying it using a fair amount of expertise in radio frequency communications.

The Flipper Zero is also incapable of defeating keyless systems that rely on rolling codes, a protection that’s been in place since the 1990s that essentially transmits a different electronic key signal each time a key is pressed to lock or unlock a door.

To ban such device because it can (really can’t) open cars is just like to ban screwdrivers because they can open cars as well. Or ban kitchen knifes because they can kill people. Maybe the next step is to ban computers as whole because they can be used for illegal stuff too!

The Canadian government should address the real issue, which is to pressure car manufacturers into fixing their security flaws. Banning a device like Flipper Zero would only result in harming security enthusiast and taking away learning opportunities from them.

The device could be used to clone a hotel key card or change the TV channel in a bar, or open some garage doors but if a criminal knows how to use it, then the criminal surely knows how to build one from scratch so banning the device wouldn’t improve public security at all. If it does something, it just takes away opportunity from good guys who use it.

But the good news is that almost everything in Flipper Zero is free (as in freedom). So you can study the source code and reproduce the programs in use and build your own thing, thanks to the essential four software freedoms granted to people under a GNU General Public License, which is a copyleft license, meaning it will remain free software.

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Ali Reza Hayati

Entrepreneur, hacker, cypherpunk.