The Flipper Zero: A Hacker’s Delight

People who read this Hands-On are likely to be in one of two camps: those who look at Flipper Zero with awe, while others will look at it with disgust. Some of the former are security researchers and developers of hardware trying to understand the wireless configuration. The latter include IT people responsible for protecting their domain from attacks on networks or physical. However, no matter which camp you fall into, one thing is sure: the Flipper is something you’ll want to be aware of.

Flipper is an open-source hacking tool with fantastic polish and utility. Its price on the official website is US $169. However, it is sold out as quickly as it can be made and, therefore, can usually be bought at a significant cost-plus–I paid $225 from one retailer.

Hacking hardware and software can be a way of adapting consciously or unconsciously the aesthetics of design that would not look out of place in a William Gibson cyberpunk novel. Hardware is functional and has boxy enclosures with black or painted surfaces. Software is often dependent on obscure commands. They are essential tools designed for serious users. The Flipper can turn this idea on its own. Its visual descent is more like Tamagotchi than tech dystopia, with its bright white and orange case that can be molded to fit the palm of your hand. An animated dolphin on the screen is displayed to help you navigate the settings menus. It’s like a toy for kids. It’s not.

A design that is open-source Flipper is an open-source design. Flipper comprises the main board, which houses an ARM-based processor with a transceiver chip. It also includes a card to handle NFC or RFID communications and a PCB antenna, an additional board to manage IR, and iButton interfacing. JAMES PROVOST

Its Flipper operates on an Arm processor with 32 bits core, with a maximum rate of 64 megahertz. It’s not much to be excited about, but the processor is connected to various serial and analog peripheral interfaces and, most crucially, a highly-efficient radio transceiver. In the beginning, it’s a great device. Flipper can perform some intriguing things. It allows you to read various popular RFID critical cards by bringing them before the Flipper. It stores the data on an SD card. Then, you can utilize the Flipper to mimic these cards, allowing you to open, for instance, a door in an office as if you were carrying that original credit card. (It’s versatile enough to read microchips implanted in my cats, which have an entirely different frequency from Key cards with RFID.) This is an excellent option if, as I did, you’re often found digging a small stack of white, blank credit cards out of your purse, trying them all at once to open a door you’ve never used. However, the effects on physical security are evident. (You may be able to duplicate critical cards in the kiosk, for instance, the type of kiosk that cuts keys; however, you’ll need to bring the card into the booth, which is more difficult to conceal than copying the card on the spot.)

In the same way, it is possible to copy the IButton key fob and several radio remotes that operate within the popular 433-MHz band. It also can scan near-field communications (NFC) devices, for example, MIFARE key cards, and detect the signals that your credit card’s contactless EMV chip emits (although it’s of limited utility, as it can’t duplicate the results of the algorithms used to generate one-time codes per transaction). It also has an infrared port that lets you copy the TV remote, similar to a universal remote control. Even if it’s not connected to the original remote, it will switch between a variety of standard infrared protocols to perform essential functions like turning it off and changing channels, making it a more robust model of television-b-gone. This feature is also famous for minor mischief, as evident by the many videos available online that show people shutting off the projectors in lecture halls or the menus of fast-food restaurants.

The Flipper’s capabilities are extended by adding additional boards like a WiFi card or other devices that communicate using various protocols. Furthermore, the Flipper can aid in debugging hardware by producing diverse test signals, like PWM. This signal could be utilized to check a motor, for instance. JAMES PROVOST The Flipper also can emulate the functionality of a USB mouse and keyboard and execute scripts that manage a graphics-based user interface. This is an excellent benefit for those looking to automate their work and a security issue for other users. It is also possible to use the Flipper as a bridge between USB and UART, allowing connectivity to many devices that aren’t compatible with USB.

The $45 plug-in card includes WiFi capability; however, as it is shipped, it can only provide updates over the air. However, there are a lot of hacks for the Flipper and the WiFi board itself. It is possible to change their firmware with alternative ones that permit low-level control over WiFi signals with returning to the realm of mysterious commands. This gives you the capability to carry out a variety of attacks on a WiFi network. For instance, it is possible to spoof an access point’s names, and your list of WiFi networks within your vicinity is flooded in line-by-line fashion, with the lyrics from the song by Rick Astley, “Never Going To Give You Up,” in an unorthodox variant in rolling. (To check this without stirring the ire of an IEEE IT team, or my neighbors, I rode the Flipper to the bottom of a pier that extends 110 meters from the appropriately called Transmitter Park into the city’s East River). Another point-and-shoot attack can attack an access point using an influx of deauthorization packets that kill active connections.

The entire functionality is, in and of itself, legal. Like the lockpicks you have, The difference isn’t the actual possession or usage of the tools but how they are utilized. Invading your network or cloning your personal Key Card is just one of the things. Going after another’s. The modified firmware may also permit the Flipper to carry out illegal and criminal acts, for instance, eliminating local restrictions on the ISM bands it can send data on. Once you release a single image from a band prohibited in your area, you’re operating illegally.

Like the smartphone, Flipper is proof of technological convergence, combining multiple devices into an elegant package. One is left wondering what the next version will offer and what it will be a Furby.


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