Brazil seizes Flipper Zero hacking tool

Brazilian National Telecommunications Agency seizes incoming Flipper Zero purchases

Brazil seizes Flipper Zero hacking toolCybersecurity enthusiasts are disappointed in Anatel's decision

The Brazilian National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) has been seizing incoming Flipper Zero purchases due to alleged criminal use, dealing a significant blow to the reputation of the portable multi-function cybersecurity tool. Flipper Zero is a device that allows pen-testers and hackers to experiment with a variety of hardware, including RFID emulation, digital access key cloning, radio communications, NFC, infrared, Bluetooth, and more.

Anatel has flagged the device as a tool for criminal purposes, complicating clearance and preventing it from reaching its intended destination. Despite the fact that the device does not use hardware that is illegal or difficult to obtain elsewhere, its market success fueled a wave of negative media attention portraying it as a threat to society. The Brazilian government has been accused of outright banning Flipper Zero in the country, limiting security researchers' access to powerful portable cybersecurity tools, harming their work, and harming the field.

Seizures of the $169 portable multi-functional tool designed for pen-testers and hacking enthusiasts began in January and are still ongoing. Several Brazilians who bought the Flipper Zero hacking tool have reported that their shipments are being redirected to Anatel due to a lack of certification with the country's Radio Frequencies department. This type of seizure is usually associated with devices emitting radio signals meeting the country's electronic and telecommunications standards.

Anatel flags Flipper Zero as a tool used for criminal purposes

Buyers from Brazil have been exchanging tips on Reddit[1] in recent months in order to get their items cleared by Anatel. A user has posted analytical instructions[2] for applying to Anatel for a personal homologation certificate for Flipper Zero, which should allow the buyer to use it while prohibiting resells to others in Brazil. Many buyers, however, report that the agency has rejected this certification procedure because Flipper Zero is allegedly used to facilitate crime. A letter received by Flipper Zero customers in Brazil says that Anatel rejects all requests for the homologation of a telecommunications product called Flipper Zero.

According to Anatel, this product has been used by malicious users in committing crimes or misdemeanors in the country. The rejection of homologation requests is based on Article 60, item II of the Regulation for Conformity Assessment and Homologation of Telecommunications Products, which is an annex to Resolution No. 715 of October 23, 2019. Anatel's decision is aimed at protecting Brazilian citizens from potential criminal actions facilitated by the use of the device.

Anatel concludes the message by stating that the item will be returned to the post office with the recommendation that it be returned to the sender. Those who bought the devices from Joomf and had their Flipper Zero seized were told they would be reimbursed.

The Implications of Flipper Zero's Seizure

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) argues that the Brazilian authorities' outright banning of Flipper Zero in the country will limit the security researchers' access to powerful portable cybersecurity tools, harming their work and negatively impacting the field. According to EFF,[3] Flipper Zero has legitimate uses, including penetration testing to improve the security of home networks or organizational infrastructure, hardware research, security research, protocol development, and use by radio hobbyists, among others.

The organization argues that the creation, possession, or distribution of tools related to security research should not be criminalized or restricted. The EFF believes that such tools can be used for lawful purposes and can help improve cybersecurity and that laws or regulations that criminalize or restrict their use can have negative consequences for security research and the public interest.

Flipper Devices INC is not certified in Brazil under the country's electronic and telecommunications standards for radio signal-emitting devices. As a result, it is not permitted to freely circulate in the Brazilian market. However, the company's reputation has suffered as a result of users who used its hacking capabilities to perform illegal activities such as car unlocking on social media.

About the author
Ugnius Kiguolis
Ugnius Kiguolis - The mastermind

Ugnius Kiguolis is a professional malware analyst who is also the founder and the owner of 2-Spyware. At the moment, he takes over as Editor-in-chief.

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