SpaceX’s Starlink Internet Poses Danger For Users In Ukraine, Experts Say

Cybersecurity experts are issuing fresh warnings about Ukraine’s use of Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite internet network.

The system is being utilised in the midst of Russia’s invasion of the country, with SpaceX chief Elon Musk sending Starlink kits in bulk following direct requests from Ukrainian officials.

However, safety concerns have since been raised due to the threat posed by Russian interference.

The main issue revolves around the distinctive appearance of Starlink terminals, which are easily identifiable – according to one expert.

“There are some features of Starlink that make it different from previous generations of satellite communications technology used in conflicts,” John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School, told Business Insider.

Elon Musk's Rocket Is On Track To Collide With Moon (Alamy)
Elon Musk’s Rocket Is On Track To Collide With Moon (Alamy)

However, according to Scott-Railton, this can still leave users exposed: “In most situations, the higher the profile of the communications technology and the talk about it, the greater the risk is in using it in a conflict situation for obvious reasons.”

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Starlink was first launched back in October 2020, with its user base expanding to more than 145,000 globally across 25 countries – as of January 2022.

Russian Soldiers stand guard near Ukrainian navy command ship (Alamy)
Russian Soldiers stand guard near Ukrainian navy command ship (Alamy)

Therefore, the fact that Starlink’s radio signals can be tracked down remains a big concern for experts like Scott-Railton.

Jason Healey, senior research scholar at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), expressed similar reservations to Insider: “Any modern military can typically either triangulate those signals to target them with artillery or airstrikes or use a missile which hones in directly on such signals.”

Russia, if armed with the appropriate equipment, would easily be able to locate Starlink’s transmitter from the sky. Given the obvious benefits that the dishes provide, Ukrainians have naturally been eager to install imported Starlink terminals. And yet, with a number of experts cautioning against using the technology, Musk may be forced to issue fresh advice for Ukrainians trying to avoid detection.


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