ELON Musk warned Starlink users in Ukraine that the system may be targeted in the ongoing invasion from Russian military forces.
The billionaire tweeted Thursday, “Starlink is the only non-Russian communications system working in some parts of Ukraine, so probably of being targeted is high.”
In a thread, Musk warned that users should turn on the system “only when needed” while also placing the antenna as far away from people as possible and covering the device with “light camouflage” to avoid detection.
A security researcher told CNN that anyone using a Starlink dish in Ukraine “needs to consider it as a potential giant target.”
“If an adversary has a specialized plane aloft, it can detect [a satellite] signal and home in on it,” said Nicholas Weaver of the University of California at Berkeley to the network.
SpaceX activated its Starlink internet service in Ukraine following Mykhailo Fedorov’s, the minister of digital transformation, request for Starlink stations.
The Russian invasion had disrupted Ukraine’s internet services, said Fedorov.
On Monday, Fedorov shared a photo of what seems to be Starlink terminals. “Starlink – here. Thanks, @elonmusk” The terminals connect to Starlink satellites to access high-speed internet.
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Following the news that Musk sent terminals to Ukraine, digital security expert John Scott-Railton praised the billionaire but warned that satellite internet set-ups can have repercussions.
“Early in a conflict w/ [sic] disrupted internet, satellite internet feels like a saviour,” he wrote on Twitter.
“But it quickly introduces very real, deadly new vulnerabilities.
“If you don’t understand them, people die needlessly until they learn and adapt. This has happened again. And again.”
Scott-Railton said that Russia has been known to use signals to geolocate or track possible targets.
“Russia has decades of experience hitting people by targeting their satellite communications,” he wrote.
“In 1996, Chechen president Dzhokhar Dudayev was careful, but Russian aircraft reportedly found his satphone [satellite phones] call and killed him with a missile strike.”
Scott-Railton stated that satellite phones operate differently from Starlink systems, but he worries the technology can still pose a threat.
“I’ve researched the role and risks of internet and satellite communications during armed conflicts … for a decade,” he continued.
“I’m writing this thread because I see a familiar mistake looming. Again.”
More to follow…
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