SpaceX chief Elon Musk has warned that there is a high possibility that the company’s Starlink service in Ukraine, which has been affected by the Russian invasion, will be targeted.
The warning came days after an Internet security researcher warned that devices used in satellite communications could become beacons that Russia could target in air strikes.
Important warning: Starlink is the only non-Russian communications system still working in some parts of Ukraine, so probability of being targeted is high. Please use with caution.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 3, 2022
Elon Musk asked users to only turn on Starlink when needed, position the antenna as far away from people as possible and put a slight blur over the antenna to avoid visual detection.
Musk said earlier that the service had been activated in Ukraine and that SpaceX was on track to send more stations to the country. This came in response to a tweet by a Ukrainian government official who asked Musk to provide the beleaguered country with Starlink stations.
Ukraine later said it had received satellite internet stations from the company as donations. But an Internet security researcher warned that they could become Russian targets.
If Putin controls the skies over Ukraine, the transfers of users become beacons for air strikes, the researcher said.
Starlink service is threatened by air bombardment
In a series of 15 tweets, a senior researcher with the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab project detailed the risks. “Russia has decades of experience targeting people by targeting their communications via satellite,” said John Scott-Railton.
The Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister thanked the company for maintaining contact with Ukrainian cities and emergency services that save lives. But he said the country needed generators to keep Starlink online due to Russian attacks on infrastructure.
In response, Musk said that SpaceX is working on updating the software to reduce power consumption. As a result, the Starlink can be powered through the car’s cigarette lighters.
Musk also added: Mobile roaming is enabled. As a result, the antenna can maintain the signal while the vehicle is in motion.
It is reported that Starlink antennas, which are similar to home satellite dishes, are not designed for use on the move. It was not clear what Musk meant by the tweet.