A Belgian researcher hacks Elon Musk’s company, here is his reward

Lennert Wouters, a doctoral student at KU Leuven, has successfully hacked a satellite dish from Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite network. Elon Musk’s company rewarded the Belgian hacker with a check for $12,000.


A satellite dish, a $25 circuit board, and “a lot of patience“: that’s all it took for Lennert Wouters to hack billionaire Elon Musk’s Starlink service. Las Vegas, a major security breach in SpaceX’s satellite network.

We find the attack technically impressive. We believe this is the first of its kind on our system“, admitted Starlink in a press release. Why have tested the security of Starlink?

Preparing a doctorate on material security at COSIC, the research group on digital security and cryptography of KU Leuven, Lennert Wouters deals “on the offensive side: finding leaks in electronicshe explained. Other colleagues are on the defensive side and protect the systems. But you can’t build a defense without knowing how an attack works.“.”It was originally a side project. I didn’t know if anything would come of it“, he clarified.

bug bounty

As the researcher himself explained, he did not strictly speaking hack into a Starlink satellite. But by interfering all the same in the company’s systems, the Belgian revealed a major flaw. “We supply Starlink systems worldwide. It is difficult, if not impossible, to make the devices completely waterproof“, justified the company in its press release.

For having flushed out the fault (and having warned the American company), Lennert Wouters received a reward of 12,000 euros. “SpaceX even has a “bug bounty” program. We reported two issues, for which we received $8,000 and $4,000. If the research took place during working hours, the money is intended for the university. We haven’t talked about that yet“, specified the Flemish doctoral student.

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