The Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada agency announced on Thursday that it will take all necessary measures to ban the use of devices that are used to steal vehicles by copying wireless signals for remote keyless entry. The agency plans to collaborate with law enforcement agencies to remove such devices from the Canadian marketplace. One such device is the Flipper Zero.
Flipper Zero is a slim device about the size of a large USB stick that’s become popular among hobbyists and hackers. It interacts with various radio signals through bundled open-source software to clone RFID cards, open garages, and control TVs.
“We are banning the importation, sale, and use of consumer hacking devices, like flippers, used to commit these crimes,” said Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau echoed the pledge to crack down on tools that can purportedly copy wireless signals from vehicles’ key fobs to help thieves steal cars.
While the device has attracted attention for its versatility, security experts argue the Flipper Zero lacks the advanced capabilities required to defeat modern anti-theft vehicle protections. Attacks typically require higher-powered hardware and modified software.
The gadget is “very underpowered to actually run any modern exploits for taking cars,” said Alex Kulagin, COO of manufacturer Flipper Devices. Fundamental vehicle theft tools are “more sophisticated purpose-built devices.”
According to Flipper Devices COO Alex Kulagin, the Flipper Zero gadget lacks advanced capabilities to defeat modern vehicle security, such as rolling codes. He stated that the device cannot be used to hijack any car, particularly the ones manufactured after the 1990s.
However, some YouTube videos have gone viral, implying that the device can easily steal cars. In response, Amazon temporarily stopped selling the Flipper Zero, even though no evidence supports the claim that it enables serious vehicle theft schemes. Officials in Brazil previously deemed it illegal.
Kulagin expressed frustration that Canadian officials provided no direct outreach before targeting his product.