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Flipper Zero hacking tool is a big hit

Despite supply chain issues resulting in the device being out of stock for weeks on end, the company behind the Flipper Zero is on track to sell $80 million worth of units this year.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
Flipper Zero reading a debit card

Flipper Zero reading a debit card

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

For a project that was put up for crowdfunding in the summer of 2020, the Flipper Zero has gone from strength to strength, with TechCrunch reporting that the company expects to sell some $80 million worth of units this year.

Also: How to unlock the Flipper Zero's true power

That's close to 500,000 units. 

Not heard of the Flipper Zero? Where have you been? 

It's a $169 multifunctional device that can interact with digital interfaces in the physical world. It can emulate RFID and NFC cards, analyze radio protocols, imitate remote controls, and much more. It's like a "digital Swiss Army knife" for cybersecurity enthusiasts, tinkerers, and those interested in exploring the digital side of their environment.

Also: Do RFID blocking cards actually work? My Flipper Zero revealed the truth

But instead of looking like some scary hacking tool, all black and bristling with antennas, it looks like a kid's toy, all plastic and brightly colored. It reminds me of Tamagotchis, those digital pets that would die or turn evil if you neglected them.

Flipper Zero
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET
  • ARM Cortex-M4 32-bit 64 MHz (application processor)
  • ARM Cortex-M0+ 32 MHz (network processor)
  • Flash: 1024 KB
  • SRAM: 256 KB
  • 1.4-inch 128 x 64 LCD monochrome display
  • 5-button joystick with back button
  • 2000 mAh rechargeable battery
  • Sub-1 GHz frequencies: 315 MHz, 433 MHz, 868 MHz and 915 MHz (depending on regions)
  • 13.56 MHz NFC
  • 125 kHz RFID
  • 18 GPIO connector
  • Infrared (TX/RX range: 800-950 nm, TX power: 300 mW)
  • iButton 1-Wire support (Dallas DS1990A/CYFRAL compatible)
  • USB 2.0 port, type C

The Flipper Zero's success is down to a number of things. 

The price is right given its capability (people were willing to pay vastly inflated prices when stocks were low), it's incredibly user-friendly, you can attach expansion cards to it to give it Wi-Fi capability, there's a very active community of users that are constantly finding new things to do with it, and there are also third-party operating systems available that can do a lot more than the stock operating system.

Flipper Zero FAQ: 'Can you really hack Wi-Fi networks?'

Sure, it's not a substitute for high-end pentesting tools, but it offers a lot of power in a very small and portable package. It's certainly not a toy, and it's one of the easiest, cheapest ways to work with RFID and NFC. 

It's also a fantastic educational tool and a stepping stone to get people -- young and old -- into cybersecurity.

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