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Canada will ban Flipper Zero due to a spike in car thefts. A device from a company with Russian roots can clone an immobilizer signal

Canada will ban Flipper Zero due to a spike in car thefts. A device from a company with Russian roots can clone an immobilizer signal
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The Canadian government plans to ban Flipper Zero (made by a company with Russian roots) and similar devices, recognizing them as tools that thieves can use for car theft.

Flipper Zero is a portable programmable testing tool that helps experiment and debug various hardware and digital devices using different protocols, including RFID, radio, NFC, infrared, and Bluetooth.

Users in videos demonstrate Flipper Zero's ability to carry out attacks by replaying signals to unlock cars, open garage doors, activate doorbells, and clone various digital keys.

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.

— Canadian Minister of Industry François-Philippe Champagne on Twitter.

Champagne's statement came after a national summit on combating car theft organized this week by the Canadian government in Ottawa, Ontario, reported by Bleeping Computer.

According to the Canadian government, around 90,000 cars are stolen annually (or one car every six minutes), with annual theft losses amounting to $1 billion, including insurance costs for repair and replacement of stolen cars. Canadian police also reported that car theft had the most significant impact on the rise in the national Crime Severity Index in 2022.

Flipper Devices, the company that developed these devices, claims that the gadget cannot be used for stealing cars built in the last 24 years.

Flipper Zero cannot be used to steal any cars, especially those manufactured after the 1990s, as their security systems have rolling codes. Additionally, to intercept the original signal, the owner's signal needs to be actively blocked, which Flipper Zero's hardware is not capable of. Flipper Zero is designed for testing and developing security tools, and we have taken measures to prevent the device's use for malicious purposes.

— Flipper Devices COO Alex Kulagin.

Amazon also banned the sale of Flipper Zero from April 2023 because it is a skimming device (a type of fraud where scammers copy payment card information), and in March 2023, the Brazilian National Telecommunications Agency began seizing incoming purchases of Flipper Zero due to its potential use by criminals.

On the official website, Flipper Devices is based in Claymont, Delaware, but the COO's surname led to an investigation. The company's LinkedIn page lists 34 affiliated members residing in different countries worldwide (none in the USA), but almost all of them received their education at Russian universities.

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