A cybersecurity expert from KU Leuven, Lennert Wouters, managed to hack a Starlink dish by adding a homemade circuit board to his antenna dish.
In doing so, he gained an insight into the operation of Elon Musk’s satellite system, which is intended to make the internet available all over the globe.
The international company called the fear “technically impressive”. In the month of May 2019, the first sixty satellites of the Starlink system were launched, and there are now some 3000 Starlink satellites orbiting the earth at the height of 547 kilometres, rather than press charges against Wouters.
Along with this, they formed a network developed by billionaire and Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s SpaceX program, which is supposed to bring the internet to far-flung areas. In the month of February, Musk announced that there were some 2,50,000 subscribers.
In Belgium, you currently pay €99 monthly in subscription costs for access to Starlink and a one-off €639 euros for the antenna dish you can install at home. This is relatively expensive for a nation where internet coverage is usually better, but it can be a solution for the areas where this is not the issue.
In addition, one of those dishes ended up at KU Leuven. More specifically, on the desk of an expert in cyber security-computer scientist Lennert Wouters. He hacked the system with a homemade device that cost him barely €25 euros.
Armed with a hot air gun, cleaning alcohol and “a lot of patience”, he managed to open the dish. Then he connected a circuit board which was homemade with a number of computer chips. With that, he managed to control the overall boot system, permitting him to bypass the security protocol that the system automatically goes through when it is started up a as well as with which the antenna users have at home connects to the Starlink system.