Is the ‘Flipper Zero’ a Security Threat? Queensland Officials Sound Alarm

Queensland authorities are cautioning residents about the potential risks posed by the “Flipper Zero,” a multi-functional device capable of interacting with access control systems.

Read: Public Warned Of Rental Scam Following Incident In Aspley

Police have seized one of these devices in Boondall. Whilst currently legal in Australia and easily purchased online, concerns have been raised about its potential for misuse by some. Amazon has already removed the device from sale, citing its ‘card skimming’ capabilities.

Queensland Superintendent Robert Fleischerurged community members to keep keys, cards, and electronic devices secured, as the gadget needs close proximity to scan codes.

Photo credit: Flipper Zero/Facebook

According to Superintendent Fleischer, the Flipper Zero has an appearance resembling a child’s handheld gaming device, yet it possesses the ability to take the place of certain controllers and interface with phones, computers, and even garage door systems.

What is Flipper Zero?

The Flipper Zero is a device that can remotely control various functions such as media players, computer keyboards, mouse cursors, and presentation slides. Specifically, it can serve as a presentation remote control.  

The Flipper Zero was initially unveiled in August 2020 through a Kickstarter crowdfunding drive that amassed $4.8 million in backing. Following the successful campaign, the first units of the device rolled out to supporters around 18 months later.

Photo credit: Flipper Zero/Facebook

It has the capability to replace certain HID (human interface device) controllers. This enables it to interact with phones and computers. 

Additionally, it can function as a keyboard for a computer, controlling media playback on the computer or operating as a camera remote for a phone. The Flipper Zero can also substitute as a computer mouse. Notably, it can even control the TikTok app on a phone.

Flipper’s Response to Issues

Photo credit: Flipper Zero/Facebook

In February 2024, the Canadian government revealed intentions to prohibit the sale of the Flipper Zero device within the country, citing concerns over its alleged role in vehicle theft.

In their blog, Flipper noted that “Flipper Zero operates at the same frequencies as remote controls.” They said, “Yes, Flipper Zero can indeed receive and decode radio signals. However, intercepting the radio signal from the remote control won’t be enough to unlock a modern car because they use encryption to securely provide access.”

Whilst acknowledging the device’s ability to intercept radio frequencies used by remote controls, the makers clarified that simply receiving those signals would be insufficient to gain entry to modern encrypted vehicle systems designed with secure access in mind.

Read: Community Alert: Theft of Vehicle and Wheelchair from Retirement Village, Aspley

As the compact hacking tool becomes more accessible, the public is being advised to remain vigilant about properly securing personal devices and access points. Police are monitoring the situation closely.

Published 4-April-2024