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How to unlock the Flipper Zero's true power

The Flipper Zero is a powerful portable multi-functional cybersecurity tool. Here's how to take it to the next level.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Alyson Windsor
Flipper Zero running DarkFlipper and running Wi-Fi Marauder

Flipper Zero running DarkFlipper and running Wi-Fi Marauder 

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

I've talked a lot about the Flipper Zero, the multi-functional cybersecurity tool that slips into your pocket and looks like a toy.

For the price, it's opens up a lot of doors, and can be used as both a serious pentesting tool, and also a great educational platform.

Flipper Zero FAQ: 'Can you really hack Wi-Fi networks?' and other questions answered

But there's a way to make it even more powerful.

And that's to load up third-party firmware onto it.

Yes, the Flipper Zero supports third-party firmware. In fact, the makers of the tool make it easy to load unofficial firmware onto it using the Flipper Zero update tool.

There are a few choices out there of alternative firmware for your Flipper Zero (and there's nothing saying you have to stick to one – you can be swapping versions to your heart's content), but there are two that stand out.

Both extend the features that are open to the Flipper Zero.

For example, both remove the regional transmit restrictions of the sub-GHz transmitter/receiver, both add new IR remotes so you can control more devices, and both add a bunch of tools and features that become very useful one you've figured your way around your Flipper Zero.

Note: I recommend you start out using the stock Flipper Zero firmware. This will let you get up to speed on what the device can do before you add a whole bunch of potentially confusing features and tools into the equation.

OK, so there are two firmware options. Which is the best?

I wish I could give you a straight answer, but after a couple of weeks of running both, I feel that they are both worth a look.

First off, both are free, so there's no commitment. Also, you can move freely between the official firmware version and the two here.

Just install – which takes a couple of minutes – and away you go.

Both firmware projects are also very active projects and see a lot of updates, sometimes daily. For DarkFlipper, all the updates go straight onto the GitHub repository, but RogueMaster now has a Patreon, and that means that subscribers get updates quicker, and it takes a bit longer for them to trickle down to the free channel.

Both projects are evolving so fast that there's no point in me listing the features here as they'll have changed in a few days. I recommend following the links above and reading up on the features list and what's new.

But what's for sure is that either one of these firmware options adds a whole bunch of new tools and features to experiment with, and I only see the projects getting better and better over the coming weeks and months.

I've been flipping between the two (pun intended) now for a few weeks and can't decide which is best. Both have strengths over the other, and as soon as I think I have a favorite, a new feature is added to the other!

If you have a Flipper Zero, and you want to go deeper, this is a good direction to go in.

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