Canada moves to ban the Flipper Zero amid rising auto theft concerns

zohaibahd

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Bottom line: The popularity of the Flipper Zero has Canadian officials on edge. While the tool's capabilities do raise concerns, the knee-jerk prohibition highlights the tricky balance between empowering white-hat hackers and preventing malicious misuse of technology.

Canada is on the path to prohibiting the sale and use of the Flipper Zero, a popular hacking tool used by tech enthusiasts. The ban was announced last Thursday by Canada's Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, who stated that the action is in response to rising car thefts.

"Criminals have been using sophisticated tools to steal cars. And Canadians are rightfully worried. Today, I announced we are banning the importation, sale and use of consumer hacking devices, like flippers, used to commit these crimes," he tweeted.

It's understandable why the Canadian government is concerned about the spike in auto thefts. Around 90,000 vehicles are reported stolen annually in the country, costing approximately $1 billion a year when factoring in insurance claims and replacement costs. That equates to about one car being taken every six minutes.

The $169 Flipper Zero is essentially a penetration-testing device (when used virtuously) that can scan for vulnerabilities in wireless networks, RFID/NFC devices, and infrared devices. But the real fun lies in its various radio frequency hacking capabilities. YouTube is filled with videos of users deploying the device to disrupt smart home gadgets, traffic lights, gates, department store announcements, and even gas station signs. There have even been cases of iPhones being overwhelmed with rogue pop-up messages after interfacing with a modified Flipper - although that vulnerability was thankfully patched by Apple in December.

However, many experts agree that the Flipper Zero itself does not pose a real threat when it comes to stealing today's cars. Most vehicles now use rolling codes rather than fixed codes for keyless entry. This means the code from a key fob can only be used once, rendering captured codes useless. A thief would have to simultaneously jam the key fob signal while recording the code with a Flipper, a difficult feat.

But the device does raise some real concerns. The Flipper Zero packs a lot of power into a small, innocuous package. It could be used by a knowledgeable user to wreak havoc on insecure smart home systems and connected devices.

Some argue this is a good thing as it exposes weaknesses in products so they can be improved. If a relatively inexpensive toy can hack a device, that's a sign it needs better security.

Regardless of the pros and cons, the writing has been on the wall for the Flipper Zero for a while now. Early last year, Amazon banned the device from its platform, instructing sellers to remove or delete any listings associated with it. The Flipper Zero has also drawn increasing scrutiny from law enforcement in multiple countries. Devices have been seized in the US and Brazil - the latter actually has an effective ban in place.

A US ban seemed unlikely before, but with Canada moving ahead, some kind of regulation may indeed happen.

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You guys have no clue what we are facing right now. People got their car hijacked in plain daylight.

Some auto thieves are literally stealing cars on the same street at night.

We are at war against the organized crime stealing cars because our laws and our effectives are not able to prevent the Armageddon that we are facing right now.

Thieves are stealing cars and putting them in containers less than 2 hours later.

Not to mention that automakers don't do anything because they will have another sale after someone having their car stolen. Insurances are paying and they rise the victim insurance quote subsequently. Everybody wins beside the victims.
 
The focus should not be on banning this tool, but rather focus on holding manufacturers reasonable for absolutely shoddy security in their products.
You really think the Canadian government is going to be able to pressure the worldwide industry to our realities?

And you believe the same government, host to a 35 millions population is going to change the establish standard for the whole North America market?

Well, here is the spoiler, not going to happen.
 
When discovering your locks can be opened by a toothpick, the correct response is to get better locks, not ban toothpicks.
Usually, electronic locks require more than just a toothpick, but I get your point. It's ridiculous how easy it is to open mechanical locks, at least from the YouTube videos I've seen.

The bottom line is that there are very few things, especially in the hands of the public, that are truly secure. Locks can be picked or busted, passwords can be guessed, even encryption is at risk from what I saw of a recent BitLocker crack by a Raspberry Pi.
 
The tool isn't at fault, the lock maker is. That being said, there is a limit to how much security people actually want since they don't understand how easy it is to steal most things. Locks keep honest people honest. At best, they only slow down professional thieves.

At some point, you have to understand that if someone wants your stuff bad enough, nothing short of invasive or inconvenient methods are going to prevent it. Banning the tools used isn't the solution.
 
If the Canadian government wants to stop car theft, they need to clean up the organized crime rings controlling their dockyards; my understanding is that most of the cars being stolen recently in Canada get quickly shipped to ports and shoved into cargo containers for overseas sales. Really, there is only a relatively small number of ports capable of loading up cars, and cars themselves are pretty obvious.

Try to ban small portable devices like these Flippers is a fool's errand; obviously the people stealing cars will not care in the slightest about them being banned, and because they are small they will be trivial to smuggle in from the US or China.
 
Try to ban small portable devices like these Flippers is a fool's errand; obviously the people stealing cars will not care in the slightest about them being banned, and because they are small they will be trivial to smuggle in from the US or China.
At this point, the only thing that makes sense to me is that this is yet another issue where they'll do a "look we're doing something", as they get paid under the table (and screw honest Canadians over bit by bit)...
 
Good for Flipper for bringing attention to this issue. Organized car theft rings were going to have this technology whether Flipper was ever made or not, and certainly despite it being banned in one country. The only answers are cars without obvious vulnerabilities, and a law enforcement and justice system that is willing and able to take the small fraction of people willing to steal cars (or worse) for a living out of the population.
 
Banning these hacking tools will do nothing at all except make it hard for the people that buy these tools to tinker with and not use them to steal people's stuff. The criminals will still have them, and this won't slow them down at all. Something people could do is install a kill switch into their cars hidden somewhere that you can turn off the entire power system when you park your car for the night. But form what I heard is people are getting their cars stolen right from parking lots during the day in daylight and most times they are only parked for a short time while they are inside shopping or eating.

The kill switch idea would completely shut the power down and the auto door locks would no longer work, and the car would not start also. Making it harder to steal for most people I would think.
 
As stated will stop casual pranksters , though that's a bit of money for mucking around. Will stop those casually considering it to steal.

Thing is governments banning tools is nothing newt o general populous , Plus industry itself places on who can buy sophisticated tools .
Could be wrong , but doesn't even mythbusters need people with explosive licenses etc
Most people don't have a need for pure Nitrate, Chloric, Sulphuric acid etc - Plus they haven't done a safety course etc in it's storage and use .
Plus I think this tool is the work done , apparently you can would together something similar with of the self products - just as you can buy diesel and fertiliser , or metal powders
 
If the Canadian government wants to stop car theft, they need to clean up the organized crime rings controlling their dockyards; my understanding is that most of the cars being stolen recently in Canada get quickly shipped to ports and shoved into cargo containers for overseas sales. Really, there is only a relatively small number of ports capable of loading up cars, and cars themselves are pretty obvious.

Try to ban small portable devices like these Flippers is a fool's errand; obviously the people stealing cars will not care in the slightest about them being banned, and because they are small they will be trivial to smuggle in from the US or China.
Everything helps....
 
Banning these hacking tools will do nothing at all except make it hard for the people that buy these tools to tinker with and not use them to steal people's stuff. The criminals will still have them, and this won't slow them down at all. Something people could do is install a kill switch into their cars hidden somewhere that you can turn off the entire power system when you park your car for the night. But form what I heard is people are getting their cars stolen right from parking lots during the day in daylight and most times they are only parked for a short time while they are inside shopping or eating.

The kill switch idea would completely shut the power down and the auto door locks would no longer work, and the car would not start also. Making it harder to steal for most people I would think.
It will ban these devices and devices like it from being made in the future...
 
The focus should be punishing those who abuse tools to commit crimes, but that would require offending those with criminal priviledge, so Canada would never do that.

if the scumb bag useless money focused piles of warm 5 day old vomit would patch their products this would not be an issue.

almost 8 billion people. you cannot arrest them all ..ever .. so next best is fix the utterly crappy insecure coded by dumbest people on earth apps
 
Banning these hacking tools will do nothing at all except make it hard for the people that buy these tools to tinker with and not use them to steal people's stuff. The criminals will still have them, and this won't slow them down at all. Something people could do is install a kill switch into their cars hidden somewhere that you can turn off the entire power system when you park your car for the night. But form what I heard is people are getting their cars stolen right from parking lots during the day in daylight and most times they are only parked for a short time while they are inside shopping or eating.

The kill switch idea would completely shut the power down and the auto door locks would no longer work, and the car would not start also. Making it harder to steal for most people I would think.
The kill switch would work, until they locate the kill switch. Even if it's an electronic switch, you just break out your Flipper. Whatever locking system you employ, someone is going to figure out how to defeat it. It's just a matter of how difficult that will be.

I think all cars should have tracking capability so that thieves will know that if they steal a car, we will track it wherever it goes.
 
The kill switch would work, until they locate the kill switch. Even if it's an electronic switch, you just break out your Flipper. Whatever locking system you employ, someone is going to figure out how to defeat it. It's just a matter of how difficult that will be.

I think all cars should have tracking capability so that thieves will know that if they steal a car, we will track it wherever it goes.

Any sort of tracking device can also be disabled, which would not be any more difficult than disabling the kill switch mentioned above. And of course tracking a stolen car only helps if the police are willing to actually use that info to make arrests. There have been a fair number of reports of people who do have some sort of tracker on their vehicle trying to give that info to the police, only for the police to do nothing while the car gets loaded onto a ship. The video below is about exactly such a case that happened recently in Canada.

 
Any sort of tracking device can also be disabled, which would not be any more difficult than disabling the kill switch mentioned above. And of course tracking a stolen car only helps if the police are willing to actually use that info to make arrests. There have been a fair number of reports of people who do have some sort of tracker on their vehicle trying to give that info to the police, only for the police to do nothing while the car gets loaded onto a ship. The video below is about exactly such a case that happened recently in Canada.

A tracking device could be disabled, assuming the thieves could get to it. A "kill switch" implies a mechanical switch that the owner has to flip when leaving the car. If it's an app controlled switch, then it can be easily defeated. But, since the mechanical switch has to be somewhere where the owner can get to it easily, the mechanical switch can also be easily defeated. A tracker could be imbedded into the frame of the car or the car's electronics potentially making it much harder to locate and disable.

But you are right about the cops. My car was broken into some years ago. Through a somewhat strange set of circumstances I was able to identify the person who broke into the car. I had their home address and name. The cops didn't do anything. As far as they were concerned, it was an insurance matter.

In my case I'd just track them back to wherever and recover the car myself. Not all stolen cars are being shipped off-shore, I'd suspect many of them are only used for a short period of time to commit more crimes. We've seen that up here in WA State.
 
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