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SpaceX boss Musk warns its Starlink system could be “targeted” at Ukraine

FILE PHOTO: Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk speaks at the Automotive World News Congress at the Renaissance Center in Detroit
FILE PHOTO: Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk speaks at the Automotive World News Congress at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan January 13, 2015. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

March 3, 2022

By Hyunjoo Jin

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – SpaceX chief Elon Musk has warned there is a high possibility the company’s Starlink satellite broadband service could be “targeted” to Ukraine, which has been ravaged by the Russian invasion.

The alert came days after a cybersecurity researcher warned that devices used for satellite communications could become “beacons” that Russia could target for airstrikes.

“Important warning: Starlink is the only non-Russian communications system still functioning in some parts of Ukraine, so the likelihood of being targeted is high. Please use with caution,” Musk tweeted.

He urged users to “turn on Starlink only when necessary and place the antenna as far away from people as possible” and “put light camouflage over the antenna to avoid visual detection.”

On Saturday, Musk said Starlink was activated in Ukraine and SpaceX was sending more terminals to the country in response to a tweet from a Ukrainian government official asking Musk to bring Starlink stations to the embattled country.

On Monday, Ukraine announced it had received donated Starlink satellite internet terminals, but a cybersecurity researcher warned these could become Russian targets.

“…when #Putin controls the air over #Ukraine, users’ uplink transmissions become beacons…for airstrikes,” tweeted John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab project.

“#Russia has decades of experience in hitting people by targeting their satellite communications,” he added in a series of 15 tweets detailing the risks. (https://bit.ly/35BEFs2)

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov thanked Starlink for “keeping our cities connected and emergency services saving lives!” But he said the country needs generators to keep Starlink service online due to Russian attacks on infrastructure.

In response, Musk said SpaceX is updating the software to reduce peak power consumption to allow Starlink to be powered from car cigarette lighters.

“Mobile roaming is enabled, so the phased array antenna can maintain the signal even in a moving vehicle,” he said.

Tim Farrar, a satellite communications consultant, said Starlink antennas, which look like home satellite dishes, are not designed to be used while driving and it’s not clear what Musk meant by the tweet.

Russia and Ukraine have agreed on the need to set up humanitarian corridors and a possible ceasefire around them for fleeing civilians, both sides said after talks on Thursday, the first sign of progress on any issue since the invasion, which Moscow described as “special.” “ denotes operation.”

(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by David Gregorio)

https://www.oann.com/spacex-chief-musk-warns-that-its-starlink-system-could-be-targeted-in-ukraine/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=spacex-chief-musk-warns-that-its-starlink-system-could-be-targeted-in-ukraine SpaceX boss Musk warns its Starlink system could be “targeted” at Ukraine

Bobby Allyn

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