Technology

Pinball Zero: “Can we really hack Wi-Fi networks?” and other questions

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen as much enthusiasm for a technology product as I did for Pinball Zero.

This $170 “portable toy multitool for pentesters and geeks” can explore RFID and radio protocols, and debug hardware using GPIO pins. Everything is in your pocket.

I posted my first impressions of Pinball Zero yesterday and have been bombarded with questions ever since. Here I will try to answer the most frequently asked questions about Pinball Zero.

Important note. Do not mess with Wi-Fi equipment and networks that you do not own or are not authorized to use! You could be in big trouble.

Is Pinball Zero a tool to hack anything and everything?

Having been using Flipper Zero for a few weeks now, I must say I’m impressed with the capabilities of this portable tool.

This allows me to easily read/copy/emulate NFC/RFID/IR remote controls and sub-GHz wireless signals. That’s a lot of power in a small tool.

But don’t get carried away. If this tool’s capabilities are limited, a quick web search or watching YouTube will give you a good idea.

Is Pinball Zero Worth the Price?

In the official store, it costs $ 170 (if you buy new, but third-party sellers sell two to three times more). For some, it’s nothing. For others, it’s a lot.

As for whether the game is worth the candle, it depends.

At this price, it’s hard to buy anything else that can do what the Pinball Zero can. If you need something to experiment with NFC, RFID, and sub-GHz wireless networks, this is the go-to tool. The GPIO outputs are also great if you like to play with the hardware.

It also gives you the ability to perform BadUSB attacks on devices.

But where I see the main strength of Flipper Zero is less hacking and more exploration.

Pinball Zero is a great learning tool and you will learn along the way.

What can you learn? How GitHub works, how to download and install firmware, how to flash hardware, what are the various network and wireless protocols and how they work, and how to work with GPIO – for starters.

Can I clone bank cards, manipulate infrastructure, or withdraw money from ATMs?

I hate to tell you this, but 95% of what you see on TikTok and Instagram is fake and created by people who are just looking for 5 seconds of fame.

And this is a big minus for Pinball Zero. These videos give people a false idea of ​​what’s possible and that would mean that out of every ten Pinball Zeros sold, nine will be oversold or forgotten in a crate or box.

But for a good portion of the 10% who stick around, Pinball Zero could be the first step on a long learning journey that could lead to a career in technology.

Can Wi-Fi networks be hacked?

Yes, but not directly.


Pinball Zero and Wi-Fi development board Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

First, you need a custom Wi-Fi development board for Flipper Zero, then you will need to flash the Wi-Fi board firmware, install new firmware on Flipper Zero, figure out what to do when something doesn’t work, and then find out how to do it. everything works.

You can then use a tool called Wi-Fi Marauder which will give you access to a variety of wireless tools.


Performing a Wi-Fi RickRoll “attack”. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET


The RickRoll attack creates many WI-FI SSIDs whose names are lyrics from “That Song”. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

But there are no shortcuts to go faster. Each step takes time, training, and some effort on your part.

Is this the best tool to learn pentesting/hacking?

It’s okay to download, and Pinball Zero is much less intimidating (and cheaper) than other devices. You can download and install Kali Linux, get the ALFA AWUS036ACH Dual Band Wireless USB Wi-Fi Adapter (you need it because it supports advanced features like monitor mode and embedding), and then learn how to use Linux.

This will give you a lot more options than Flipper, but the learning curve is also much steeper.

Is it possible to damage objects with Pinball Zero?

Yes. Not forever (well, I’m not… yet), but devices may stop working properly.

I’ve had Flipper Zero for a few weeks and it broke my router’s Wi-Fi, temporarily stopped the car’s virtual key from working properly (which could mean a trip to the garage if I didn’t know how to fix the problem), and I forced the air conditioner go crazy with the IR remote.

This is why you must not touch objects that do not belong to you or that you do not have permission to work with.

Where can I buy Pinball Zero?

The official site is updated regularly, but if you’re in a hurry and want to pay more, there are many vendors selling their Zero pinballs.

If you need a Wi-Fi development board, it’s pretty easy to find.

To go further on this topic

Pinball Zero: a geek toy or a real cybersecurity tool?

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