Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, warned that the company’s Starlink satellite internet service may be “targeted” in Ukraine, which has been ravaged by Russian aggression.
The warning came just days after an internet security expert cautioned that satellite communications equipment may become “beacons” that Russia could target for bombing.
“Important warning: In certain places of Ukraine, Starlink is the only non-Russian communications system still operational, therefore the chances of being attacked are considerable. Please exercise care while using this “Musk sent out a tweet.
He advised users to “only use Starlink when absolutely necessary and keep the antenna as far away from people as feasible,” as well as “apply light camouflage over the antenna to prevent visual detection.”
Responding to a tweet from a Ukrainian government official asking Musk to help the besieged nation with Starlink stations, Musk stated on Saturday that Starlink had been activated in Ukraine and that SpaceX was shipping additional terminals to the country.
Ukraine said on Monday that it has received donated Starlink satellite internet terminals, but an internet security analyst cautioned that they may be used by Russia.
“Here’s where you can find Starlink. @elonmusk, thank you.” Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, took to Twitter days after requesting SpaceX’s billionaire CEO Elon Musk for assistance. Fedorov posted a photo of the rear of a military-looking vehicle laden with terminals in his tweet.
“You are extremely welcome,” Musk said on Twitter.
The terminals resemble home satellite television dishes and can link to a fleet of low-orbit satellites to deliver reasonably fast internet connectivity by domestic standards.
However, John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the Citizen Lab project at the University of Toronto, warned on Twitter that the terminals may become Russian targets.
“Regarding @elonmusk’s donation of Starlink. It is encouraging to see. But keep in mind that if #Putin has control of the airspace over #Ukraine, uplink signals from users become beacons… for airstrikes “He sent out a tweet.
“…if Putin controls the air over Ukraine, users’ uplink broadcasts become beacons… for the bombing,” tweeted John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher with the Citizen Lab project at the University of Toronto.
In a series of 15 tweets explaining the dangers, he continued, “Russia has decades of expertise harming individuals by targeting their satellite communications.”
In a series of 15 tweets explaining the dangers, he continued, “#Russia has decades of expertise striking individuals by targeting their satellite communications.”
Starlink is already accessible in Ukraine, according to Musk, and SpaceX is bringing additional terminals to the nation, whose internet has been crippled by Russia’s incursion.
Fedorov commended Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States for assisting in the quick approval of Starlink’s activation in Ukraine.
Installing end-user terminals, which need a good view of the sky to connect to Starlink, is one of the problems, according to Tim Farrar, a satellite communications specialist.
Because high-rise structures sometimes interfere with service, he recommends setting up the antenna on the tallest neighboring building. “That is a rather vulnerable position to be in.”
“It is not going to be able to provide a large-scale alternative for terrestrial internet,” he stated.
A request for comment from Reuters was not immediately returned.