Being the only non-Russian communications system still working in parts of Ukraine, Starlink has a high chance of being “targeted” in Ukraine hit by the Russian invasion, as warned by SpaceX chief Elon Musk.
The Russian cyberattack on the first day of invasion rendered almost all Visat Ukraine user terminals permanently unusable. The warning from the SpaceX chief was issued days after he was warned by an internet security researcher that the devices used for Starlink satellite communications could be deemed alerting by Russia, who could target it for airstrikes.
In response to Elon Musk’s warning, Ukraine Minister of Digital Transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, replied, “We are going to use them for Ukrainians also after our victory”, noting the word of caution.
Guidelines by the SpaceX chief include:
- To use Starlink with caution
- To turn on Starlink only when needed
- To place antenna away as far away from people as possible
On Monday, Ukraine said it had received the donated Starlink satellite internet terminals.
Elon Musk later tweeted that Starlink has also updated the software to reduce power peak consumption, including enabled mobile roaming.
The Minister had appealed to Elon Musk to provide Starlink terminals for the satellite broadband service as Ukraine’s communication networks and internet services had been hit in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion, and thus Musk arranged the same and replied that more terminals will be reaching Ukraine.
The alert by Musk said that Starlink can come under Russia’s cyberattack, and to avoid visual detection, it has been advised to use light camouflage over the antenna. According to SpaceX’s website, it requires a “clear view of the sky” to maintain a strong connection with the satellites. “Objects that obstruct the connection between your Starlink and the satellite, such as a tree branch, pole, or roof, will cause service interruptions,” the website read.