This Unassuming Little Device Can Hack Your Smart Home

Illustration for article titled This Unassuming Little Device Can Hack Your Smart Home
Screenshot: FlipperZero

This strange little device may look unassuming—after all, it’s a nod to William Gibson’s famous cybernetic dolphin, Jones. But Flipper Zero, a pocket-sized, dolphin-themed hacking tool, can actually open NFD-based locks, hack access points, and even send keyboard commands to unsuspecting laptops and PCs.

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The Flipper Zero is an Arduino-compatible board that features an NFT reader and transmitter, an RFID transmitter, and even an IR blaster. This means you can read and transmit data from simpler key cards and even simulate so-called iButtons, those little round metallic keys used in some security gates. The company describes it as an “open-source multi-tool device for researching and pentesting radio protocols, access control systems, hardware, and more.”

The $200 device, available to preorder on Kickstarter, can be used for some pretty nefarious purposes, though many of the examples given, like opening a garage gate, are probably not actually possible with this hardware—especially with modern security systems. However, for ethical hackers, it could be a useful tool for testing your own security and experimenting with RFID, NFC, and IR connectivity. Add in the hardware connections and the wireless and wired data connections and you’ve got an interesting little product for programmers and those who like to crack hardware at home.

Illustration for article titled This Unassuming Little Device Can Hack Your Smart Home
Screenshot: FlipperZero

What’s more interesting is the fact that this has all of these transmitters on a box the size of a cigarette lighter. The Flipper Zero carries its branding over to a clever little dolphin-themed interface, along with programmable plugins that you can edit using an Arduino IDE. Finally, you can use it as a hardware development tool thanks to a set of pinouts on the bottom.

Flipper Zero has been pretty successful so far, raising more than $4 million on Kickstarter, and the team is currently offering preorders on a second manufacturing run. The usual concerns are plaguing the project and they missed their February 2021 ship date already, but the company wrote that they expect to start shipping a small run of devices in March and April. An email to the company regarding shipping for the preordered second batch went unanswered as of press time.

As usual with Kickstarter devices, buyer beware, but the device does seem pretty cool on its face, especially if you like to hack on hardware in your spare time.

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John Biggs is a writer from Ohio who lives in Brooklyn. He likes books, watches, and his dog. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Gizmodo. Signal: +16468270591 Telegram: @johnbiggs

DISCUSSION

I keep telling people, any device that promises full access to a person’s home is overpriced, no matter how cheap it is. All you need is a big ol’ rock. Can’t help with the ethical hacking part, but it does repel tigers.