Elon Musk warns Russia may now be SPYING on Starlink internet gifted to Ukraine – and urges 'cautious use'

ELON Musk has warned Ukrainians using his emergency satellite internet that there is a "high" chance Russia will try to spy on them.

The billionaire donated a truck load of dishes to the war-torn country, which has seen its communications battered by Russian forces.


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But the Starlink owner has alerted Ukraine to "use with caution".

"Important warning," he tweeted.

"Starlink is the only non-Russian communications system still working in some parts of Ukraine, so probability of being targeted is high."

Starlink uses thousands of satellites in space to beam internet back down to Earth, instead of traditional cables on the ground.

Mr Musk offered to help after receiving a desperate plea from Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister.

Mykhailo Fedorov – who is also Ukraine's Minister for Digital – said Starlink has been a key part in keeping emergency services connected and saving lives.

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But with some areas experiencing electricity blackouts, he warned that the country now needs generators to keep the dishes going.

Mr Musk responded saying he had updated the software to reduce peak power consumption, meaning Starlink can run from a car cigarette lighter.

He has also activated mobile roaming features, so moving vehicles can stay online too.

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"Solar panels + battery pack better than generator, as no heat signature or smoke & doesn’t run out of fuel," he said.

But the SpaceX founder urged people to only turn on Starlink when needed and to place dishes "as far away from people as possible".

"Place light camouflage over antenna to avoid visual detection," he added.

Hacking satellites "reason to go to war"

It comes after Vladimir Putin's space chief said hacking satellites is "a reason to go to war", amid reports hacker group Anonymous had shutdown Roscosmos.

Dmitry Rogozin denied that the agency was breached, but issued a chilling message to anyone who might attempt to do so.

"I want to warn everyone who tries to do it that it is essentially a crime, which should be toughly punished," he told Russian media.

"Because disabling the satellite group of any country is generally a casus belli, that is, a reason to go to war.

"And we will be looking for those who organised it.

"We will send all necessary materials to the Federal Security Service, the Investigative Committee, and the Prosecutor General's Office for relevant criminal cases to be opened."

What is Starlink?

Starlink is a satellite project launched by billionaire SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in 2015.

Musk intends to put 12,000 satellites into Earth's orbit over next decade, possibly rising to 42,000 in future.

The "mega-constellation" will eventually be able to beam internet coverage to anywhere on the planet, according to SpaceX.

The California company says its network will provide users with high-speed, low-latency internet coverage.

Latency is the time it takes to send data from one point to the next.

Because Starlink sats are 60 times closer to Earth than most satellites, SpaceX's WiFi latency is lower than traditional satellite internet.

The firm sends its satellites up in batches of 60 at a time and has deployed more than 1,400 into orbit since 2019.

They're launched from Cape Carnaveral in Florida atop unmanned Falcon 9 rockets, which are also built by SpaceX.

The effect of the low-orbiting tech on views of the night sky is a major concern, as they appear brighter than many stars and planets.

Astronomers and amateur stargazers have repeatedly blasted SpaceX for ruining their observations.

The company argues that its satellites are only bright shortly after launch because they sit in a low orbit.

Over several weeks, the satellites move further from Earth, apparently dampening their effect on space observations.

 

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