Lennert Wouters. This name probably means nothing to you. But this Belgian impressed Elon Musk in person. This security researcher at KU Leuven managed to hack SpaceX’s Starlink service. For that, he didn’t need a lot of things! Namely a heat gun, tools for prying, isopropanol solvent and “a lot of patience”.
Starlink allows its users to use the internet through satellites, without cables. For this, the billionaire’s company sent about 3000 small satellites into space. Using hardware that cost him no more than $25, he was able to hack into the system. “The scientist’s objective was to understand how Starlink worked”, in his own words for our colleagues at Standaard.
This feat literally stunned Elon Musk. “We find the attack technically impressive”SpaceX began in a statement. “We supply Starlink systems worldwide. It is difficult, if not impossible, to make the devices completely waterproof”, justified the company. For having hacked the service and warned the American company, Lennert Wouters received the tidy sum of 12,000 euros as a reward.
Better, to try to find the various flaws in its system, the company announced during the high mass of cybersecurity, the Black Hat, that it was going to hire hackers. “Ultimately, the only way for us to build a secure system is to assume that attackers will eventually break into the Starlink kit, and add additional layers of defense-in-depth to protect our network and other users who make it up”explains the company.
To motivate hackers to participate in this mission, SpaceX has promised… rewards of up to $25,000 depending on the computer flaw discovered!