Amazon bans sale of FlipperZero gadget which has triggered new TikTok prank wave because it can switch off phones, TVs, hack game machines and clone credit cards
Amazon has banned the sale of the 'FlipperZero' gadget, a wearable device designed to hack digital frequencies such as radio waves and TV signals.
The tool was first released in the summer of 2020 and took off this year as it sparked a TikTok prank wave.
The online retail giant decided to ban the product after it became clear that its hacking capabilities can also clone credit card data, violating the company's rules on card skimming.
And in a disturbing look at how easily public digital waves are intercepted, social media is awash with pranksters turning off restaurant screens, opening doors with a card and meddling with vehicles.
FlipperZero gadget allows users to hack into digital frequencies such as radio waves and TV signals at the touch of a button
While the tool is often used for social media pranks, the tool has more nefarious uses, including the ability to remotely intercept a car key signal
The technology can also open doors locked via a key card, as it can read and remember digital frequency information for later use
The FlipperZero device, which retailed for $169, isn't designed solely to trick unsuspecting victims, and its use may remind some of retro “Tamagotchi” games.
Users play with a digital dolphin that they 'feed' by hacking frequencies. This is done via an electronic multi-tool that can hack into a feed with the click of a button.
Videos shared on social media show students using it to disrupt classes by turning off smartboards and annoying their friends by turning off screens when they are in a live video game.
In another example, a user was able to hack the digital wallpaper of a restaurant and menu screens of a fast food chain.
Built through a crowdfunding campaign that raised nearly $5 million three years ago, Flipper Zero hardly shies away from its capabilities. website and notes that the toy “likes to hack digital things like radio protocols, access control systems, hardware and more.”
Many have used the gadget to frustrate those around them through innocent pranks such as turning off a video game or changing the channel on a corporate TV.
However, the tool also appears to have more nefarious applications, including using the sub-1 GHz radio feature to mimic the signals on a car key remote to unlock it.
However, this potential is limited as most modern cars have a 'rolling encryption' scheme that replaces the wave used to unlock a car on each click that is not overwritten by the FlipperZero, according to HowToGeek.
Older cars can be more vulnerable.
In a clip shared to social media, a user was able to use the FlipperZero to hack and disable electronic wallpaper in a restaurant
The tool was banned by Amazon due to its card skimming technology. A demonstration showed how credit card information can be easily stolen, including on Apple Pay, as long as the fraudster has access to the card itself
The tool has a similarly vile option for financial fraud, as it can scan and remember credit card details, including through your smartphone.
In order to hack a credit card, the device must be held directly over the card and it does not appear possible to gain access through a wallet.
Likewise, the FlipperZero can steal card information through smartphone features like Apple Pay, but that requires the phone to be unlocked.
In clips of the device causing chaos on the streets shared on social media, some users appear to be using it to intercept wireless signals that monitor traffic barriers.
This same wireless signal interception would also reportedly make it possible to change signs at a gas station and intercept overhead announcements at grocery stores.
Hotels that use RFID cards for their hotel rooms, which in most cases allow you to tap to unlock a door, may also be wary of the technology because it can open a door with a card.
Thanks to the ability to read and then store an RFID card wave, a hacker only needs to read a hotel room key for a few seconds with a FlipperZero and then gain access to the room.
The technology will remind some of the retro 'Tamagotchi' games, where users play with a digital dolphin that they 'feed' by hacking frequencies
While many appear to have played essentially harmless pranks on the gadget, its card-skimming ability has seen the device banned from Amazon.
The retailer has specific policies in place to prevent 'credit card skimmer' technology from becoming available on its platform, with the FlipperZero machine's tap-to-pay card reader determined to have broken the rules.
According to Bleeping Computer, Amazon has issued a notice warning third-party sellers to stop selling the technology.
'This product has been identified as a card skimming device. “Amazon policy prohibits the sale or offer of card skimming devices,” the notice said.
“We took this action because this product is not allowed to be sold on Amazon.com. It is your obligation to ensure that the products you offer comply with all applicable laws, regulations, and Amazon policies.”